Monthly Archives: August 2012

Red, Blue, and Yellow Part 5

Part 5: The Verdict

6 out of 10.

Now, before anyone tries to kill me over this, in the modern education system, this is a passing grade.

The positive points of the game are numerous.  It’s fun.  It looks and sounds good.  It’s got all kinds of nostalgic memories attached to it.  Really, if that was all there was to it, it would get a perfect score.

But therein lies the problem with Gen 1.  That’s not all there is.  There’s also the complete lack of balance, the sheer number of glitches, and the story so poor that it can’t even afford to suck.  Overall, Gen 1 is a mixed bag.

Now, let’s step away from the critic’s chair.

I love these games.  I really do.  When my kids inevitably come up to me, and ask what video games were like in my day, you had better believe that this (along with my Game Boy Color) is what I will hand to them (and probably Metal Gear Solid when they’re older.)  In fact, when I want to share these games with relatives, these are the games I’ll use, simply because they’re the easiest to teach.

What do I mean?  Well, a type table isn’t hard to find.  Competitive tiers hadn’t become the norm yet.  There are no special rules for contests or the Pokéathlon.  And, probably most important about a game you want to use to teach someone?  The lack of any real story lets the focus on gameplay, something that’s sure to leave a better impression.

Again, I love these games.  Without them, I probably would have been a very different person.  These games are responsible for most of what I like today- anime, video games, tabletop RPGs, TCGs…

And now that I’m finished discussing it, I think it’s time to sit down, and re-acquaint myself with Major, Chester, Nevermore, Jacob, and Dale.  With Gen 1 internal batteries winking out left and right these days, I should probably finish getting them to L100 before I Stadium them off to safety…
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I hate to say this, but I will not be able to do the anime just yet (I need to wait for Pokémon’s website to wrap back around to the beginning of the Indigo League before I can start that.)  However, look to the poll below, and I’ll work on whatever has the most votes.

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Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow Part 4

Part 4: The Toughest Part

Now, up until this point, I’ve been eyeing the games through a modern lens.  There’s a reason for that- history has proven time and time again that when a standard is set, the goal of everyone in the business has been to meet or surpass that standard.  With all the imitators and/or sequels coming in later years, it becomes a challenge for the original work to hold up.

For example, back in its day, I’m sure that Superman was revolutionary. Nowadays, the superhero genre is probably one of the largest and most profitable genres for comic books, and for movies as well.  We get two or three superhero movies each year, so where are all the Superman flicks?  Superman isn’t marketable anymore because not only has the superhero concept been done to death- during that time, it’s also been done much better.  The only way to fight the Man of Steel is to throw Kryptonite at him (or Kryptonians- you never know when a bus full of survivors from your own dead planet will show up on your doorstep to beat the crap out of you.)  Almost every other superhero has some kind of weakness that is easily exploitable, and the storytelling has become much more complex.  Superman just can’t compete these days.

Anyway, back on track.  It’s be unfair to compare Dragon Quest to Skyrim- the RPG video game has just evolved too much.  And here I am, holding Pokémon against more modern games.  Why? Because if it’s still good, if it still holds up, then no one should go without playing it.

For aesthetics, everything has moved forward fifteen (my God, it’s been that long?) years.  Nothing holds up anymore.  That’s why this part is difficult.  I have to try and pull myself back to 1995, and try to envision how good the aesthetics were then.

Visually, the game is okay for an 8-bit title.  On the overworld, you control a miniaturized version of yourself (in fact, the game’s intro shows you being shrunk down from your character art into your miniaturized form.)  It’s a fairly basic sprite- arms, legs, what might be a backpack, and a GIGANTIC HEAD.  To quote Mike Myers in “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” “It’s like an orange on a toothpick.”  But hey, it actually doesn’t look bad.  It’s that strange kind of unappealing, “It’ll never fly” that makes the game look kind of cute.  And in a game where you can capture something that looks like a puffball with gigantic eyes, it manages to fit really well.

On the battle screen, we have our largest case of hit-or-miss.  In Red & Blue, half of the Pokémon look deformed in some manner.  For the uninitiated, this is not because of the Sugimori artwork, which is incredible.  A good number of Pokémon barely resemble what they’re supposed to be (See the front sprites for Blastoise and Exeggutor, and back sprites for…  almost everyone.)  Now, that’s not to say that a lot of the sprites are bad- we have the Japanese Red & Green versions to thank for that.  And in fact, a good number of the are pretty cool.  But this number of off-model sprites should not have happened, especially considering that the sprites in this version were supposed to be improved over Red & Green’s.

Yellow, on the other hand, I look at a lot more positively.  Sure, they kept the horrible back sprites for absolutely every species in the ‘Dex, but every single front sprite was updated.  Everything looks closer to the Sugimori art now.  It’s absolutely better in terms of visuals, and it helps that the international release was given limited color support on Game Boy Colors- thanks, Nintendo!

The sound for these games is your typical chiptune-type music.  It’s not as complex as, say, Link’s Awakening, but it’s sure as hell catchier.  I dare any one of you who has played these games to not remember the title screen music, or Vermillion City, or the Leader Battle Theme.  Or Lavender Town, for you Creepypasta aficionados.  Basically, if it wasn’t reused six or seven times, it helped the town, route, or dungeon gain its own identity.

Nonmusic sounds in this games vary widely, from those as complex as Pokémon cries to the simple *cheen* *cheen* of the A button.  Pokémon cries are the more impressive sounds in the game, with the designers coming up with a wide variety for the low file size of these games.  Even though a number of them are pitch-based variations of others (I still can’t tell Rhyhorn and Charizard apart,) they are an example of attention to detail and world building that were completely unnecessary, but still way more fun than they should be.

Of course, now that I’ve mentioned attention to detail, I need to talk about that one really, really awkward part of the aesthetics.  One that hardcore fans of this gen will call “part of its charm,” “too useful to call a detriment,” or alternatively, “below the belt.”  One that for all of the games’ charm and appeal, that cannot be ignored.

Pokémon is a very, very unstable game.

No, I don’t mean that it’s crash-prone, although that can certainly happen if you screw around with Gameshark too much.  I mean that there are more glitches than they should allow.  I’m not just talking about Missingno., either.  There are all kinds of glitches to end up in eldritch locations, walking through walls, and in the original Red & Green, walking into the Hall of Fame through accidental teleport.

Now, I know that the original games were developed on a shoestring budget, but you’d think Nintendo of America would try and clean it up a little.  However, it wasn’t until Yellow that anybody bothered covering up Glitch City, or making the shores of East Cinnabar safe for people not expecting to run into Cthulhu.

Overall, the aesthetics of the game are still niec, even if the many, many glitches in the game do raise some red flags.

So, we’ve covered gameplay, story, and aesthetics.  Check back tomorrow night for the final section of the review!

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Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow Part 3

Part 3: One Type to Rule Them All

Pokémon is a turn-based RPG- basically, what that means is that rather than taking place in real time, battles occur on a separate screen.  Rather than directly controlling a character in combat, you give them commands via a popup window.  In most turn-based RPGs, you can actually put the game down and walk away in the middle of a combat sequence, and come back hours later to no changes.

Pokémon is based around the idea of monster hunting, so each Pokémon has its own identity, which is comprised of appearance, name, type, and stats.  The first two are not important to this section, so we’ll just skip those for now.

There are 15 elemental types in the original Pokémon games- Normal, Ghost, Electric, Ground, Bug, Flying, Poison, Grass, Fire, Ice, Water, Psychic, Fighting, Rock, and Dragon.  Each one interacts with the others in a different way.  For example, Fire is strong against Bug, Grass, and Ice, while it is weak against Water, Rock, and Ground.  Even those are one-half of the equation- Fire deals reduced damage to Water, Rock, Fire, and Dragon, while it takes reduced damage from Bug, Fire, and Grass.

This is one type.  About 40% of the original 151 Pokémon have two types.  So, for example, Charizard, which is Fire/Flying takes double damage from water and electricity, takes quadruple damage from rock (thanks to Fire and Flying sharing the weakness,) is immune to Ground (Flying’s immunity to ground takes priority over any prior weakness,) takes half damage from Fire and Fighting, and takes one-quarter damage from Bug and Grass (due to the shared resistance.)

Are you still with me?

Good.

Now, let me complicate things further by adding this- the moves a Pokémon uses have types as well.  Flamethrower, a Fire-type move, will hit bug, grass, and ice for double damage, and will hit Fire, Dragon, Water and Rock for half damage.  So, a Pokémon’s type is defensive, while the move type is offensive.

There is exactly one way in which a Pokémon’s type can be offensive.  If the type of the attack matches with the type of the Pokémon using it, the attack receives a 50% power boost.  So, Charizard by itself is pretty powerful.  Flamethrower is a powerful Fire-type attack.  Together?  It’s like deadly peanut butter and jelly.

Stats are the second half of gameplay-relevant identity ingredients.  A Pokémon’s stats represent its battle ability.  There are 5 stats in Gen I- Hit Points, Attack, Defense, Speed, and Special.

Hit Points determine how much damage your Pokémon can take before fainting.  A note one that- Pokémon don’t really die, except when they do.  What do I mean?  Well, Pokémon can die- we see this in Pokémon Tower, which is a graveyard for Pokémon.  Your Pokémon don’t die, no matter how many beatings they take.

Attack is the stat used for Normal, Fighting, Flying, Ground, Rock, Bug, Ghost, and Poison attacks.  The higher the Attack stat, the greater the amount of damage inflicted.

Defense is the stat used to determine how much damage a Normal, Fighting, Flying, Ground, Rock, Bug, Ghost, or Poison attack will deal.  The higher the Defense stat, the lower the damage.

Speed determines the attack order during a turn.  Typically, the Pokémon with the higher Speed will move first.  Speed is also used to determine the probability of a critical hit- an attack that randomly does twice the damage that it normally would.

Special is the attacking and defending stat for Water, Grass, Fire, Ice, Electric, Psychic, and Dragon (but not really the last one) attacks.  The higher the Special, the better your Pokémon is at attacking with and defending against those kinds of moves.

Still awake?  Okay, then, let’s take a good hard look at those last two.  What’s wrong with this picture?

For most Pokémon, a critical hit is a pretty big thing when it happens.  It can turn around a hopeless battle, or cause one for your opponent right off the bat.  Furthermore, it ignores stat adjustments, meaning that even if your opponent has turned themselves into a defensive powerhouse over the course of the battle, one critical hit will ignore all of that (if it’s a defensive powerhouse from the beginning, that’s another story entirely.)  Pokémon with ungodly Speed stats will be scoring these things every other turn.

Even worse is Special, which is an attacking and defending stat.  Most Pokémon are balanced towards Physical or Special stats, and then attacking or defending.  In the case of the latter, it’s the same stat, so it often comes down to good vs poor choice for battles.

Well, okay, the stats are a tad unbalanced.  Those types seemed pretty well-balanced, right?  No, actually.  Not in the slightest.

One of the types mentioned above, Psychic, has two strengths and two weaknesses.  One of the strengths is against Poison (which has never been strong.)  Did I mention that there are more Poison-types than any other type in the game, and none of them neutralize Psychic via their second type?  Wait, it gets better.  Its other strength is vs the Fighting type, probably one of the more versatile physical attackers.

Its weaknesses aren’t much better.  The first weakness is Ghost- oh, wait, no it isn’t.  Thanks to a bug in the programming, Psychics are immune to Ghost-type attacks (not that it’s much of a loss- the only Ghost-type move that had any chance of doing double damage against a Psychic was probably the first one you removed.)

Well, what about the other weakness?  Sorry, that’s Bug.  What’s wrong with Bug?  No Bug-type Pokémon is worth keeping by the third badge.  Only three damaging bug-type moves exist.  One of them is on Jolteon, which is an Electric-type (no attack bonus.)  The other two are on Beedrill, a Bug-type- no, wait, he’s Bug/Poison.  Did I mention that Bug isn’t resistant to Psychic?

The final nail in balance’s coffin?  Psychics are Special-based mons.

Okay, so it’s got all the balance of a drunken acrobat with vertigo.  But is it fun?

Yes.  Yes, it is.

For all its flaws, this is a fun game to play.  There’s just something magical about dealing out strings of one hit KOs.  The type matchups can be difficult to learn at first, but over time can be memorized easily.  The stats…  Unless you plan to play in a lot of Gen I leagues (do they even exist anymore?), you don’t need to worry much about stats.

Outside of combat, the game has the player scrolling around the overworld.  Random encounters occur in tall grass, on water tiles, or inside of caves.  There’s a very simple control scheme to the game- arrows move you, A button interacts and confirms, B button denies, Start pauses.

So, the gameplay holds up via Rule of Fun, and by nothing else.  Okay, then- what about aesthetics?  That’s graphics, sound, and to a certain extent, how well the package comes together.  Does that hold up at all?

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Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow Parts 1 & 2

Part 1:  Welcome to the World of Pokémon!

Before I go any farther, there are some basic things that should be addressed.  Even if you are a Pokémon fan, or were a long time ago, there’s still a chance that someone reading this site remembers that it existed, but not much beyond that.

The Pokémon world is a fictitious setting based on various real-world locations (mostly regions of Japan.)  In this universe, there are a large number of animals of near-human, human, and above-human intelligence called Pocket Monsters, or Pokémon for short.  Each Pokémon belongs to a specific type, and has supernatural attacks based around that type that they can use in battles with each other.  The capturing and battling of these creatures is a national pastime, and anyone over the age of either ten (by the anime’s continuity) or twelve (by Red, Blue, and Yellow’s continuity) is legally allowed to go out into the world and befriend Pokéon for use in this sport.

If this were my deviantART page, I’d probably spend the next few sentences joking about how the world’s economy runs on legalized cockfighting, or question the logic of sending children out to see the world, but this isn’t a piece lampshading every aspect of the series (although now you know that I am aware of the overall silliness of one of my favorite meta-series.)

Basically, the point of the games is to build a Pokémon team by capturing and training a number of Pokémon, defeating thirteen key opponents (the 8 Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, and the Indigo League Champion,) and eventually catching one of each of the [insert number here] species of Pokémon.  It seems like a concept that could never work on paper, but it managed to sell.  In fact, this actually works in the series’ favor- by setting these particular opponents, the game encourages the expansion of a trainer’s team, and furthers the goal of catching them all.  Once you start seriously trying to accomplish this, however, the game throws you a curve ball- each version of Pokémon has a small number omitted from various areas of the game.  For example, you can find the Pokémon Electabuzz in Red version.  However, he is not found in Blue.  How are you able to complete your Pokémon quest, then?  By using the Game Boy Link cable to trade Pokémon with your friend who has Red.  While you’re at it, why not trade him a Magmar, which can’t be found in Red, but can in Blue?

This opens up another neat little trick of the series- Pokémon is one of the strangest multiplayer games out there.  Your progress in the single-player campaign directly affects your performance in Multiplayer.  If you go into Multiplayer mode using a team that has only made it halfway through the game, and you play against someone who’s beaten the game, it doesn’t matter how much practice you have, or how gifted you are with the system- you are going to lose.  The other guy has trained his Pokémon longer than you have, so the difference in levels is enough to end the match almost prematurely.

So, that’s it in a nutshell.

Part 2: The Path to the Pokémon League

So, the easiest way to review a game is to start at the beginning, and play it through to the end, so let’s pull out the cartridge, and start this thing…

Hah, no.  I just finished a few months ago, and have Bulbapedia should my memory fail (not likely- I’ve been playing this game for years.)  I’ll do a basic plot summary for this part, and conclude it with a review of the story.

Pokémon starts off like a typical RPG- with a character naming screen.  Basically, you name your character (whose canonical name, and the name used to refer to him hereafter, is Red,) as well as your rival (same as above, and his name is Douche Blue.)  Your character is then dropped into Pallet Town, which is your basic JRPG starting town.  In other words, nothing vital past the 20-minute mark.  There’s really nothing to do around here, but Blue tells you that his grandfather, the great Professor Oak, is looking for you.  There’s exactly one exit to the town at this point in the game, so naturally, you head north.

And guess who just happens to pop up a small way behind you as you do so?

Basically, Oak explains that you can’t walk 15 feet away from your house, because the only exit to the town is full of tall grass, and wild Pokémon (random encounters) will attack you if you set foot inside of it.  What happens next varies based on your version- in Red and Blue, he simply brings you back to his lab for the next plot development.  In Yellow, the game actually demonstrates that Oak knows what he’s talking about by kicking off a random encounter with what seems like the only Pikachu (that electric rodent mentioned above) on the entire continent.  Oak appears on the battle screen, and captures it using a Pokéball, a capsule-like device used to carry Pokémon around in a convenient way (basically, you can walk down Main Street with your giant rock snake in your pocket, rather than causing chaos as you leave a path of destruction in your wake.)  He then drags you back to his lab.

Once in the lab, the plot splits again.  In Red and Blue, there are three Poké Balls on a nearby table.  Oak tells you and Blue that you’re each allowed to pick one of the following- Charmander, a lizard-like Pokémon of the fire element; Squirtle, a turtle-like Pokémon of the water element; or Bulbasaur, a…  toad?  Dinosaur?  Clove of garlic?

…reptillian Pokémon of the grass element.  This is actually a very subtle way of teaching the player one of the core gameplay elements of the game- remember how each Pokémon has an elemental type?  Turns out that some are strong against certain elements, while others are weak against them.  In this case, we have an elemental rock-paper-scissors in play- Fire is strong against Grass, Grass is strong against Water, and Water is strong against Fire.  It won’t matter much at this stage, but it will after the first two routes, and will continue mattering for the rest of the game.

Beginners (and if I’m anything to go by, a number of veterans) will generally pick whichever one appeals to them the most, and then you start to get a feel for what Blue’s personality is going to be like.  Throughout all your conversations with him so far, he’s been rude, but here, he makes sure that you know what a jerk ass he is by immediately picking the Pokémon that beats yours in the elemental roshambo.  For example, if you went with Charmander, he picks Squirtle.  Then, while you’re still smarting from the psychological blow, he challenges you to a battle, right then and there.  That’s the thing about Pokémon battles- you are unable to turn down a challenge from a human character.  Random encounters you can run from, but never a battle.

So, your first battle starts off, and you’re presented with four options (really three- the Run command is always sitting in the bottom-right hand corner of the window, mocking you.)  Fight is the best-sounding option, as the other two don’t offer you anything interesting (Pack shows an empty inventory screen, unless you found a hidden healing Potion at the beginning of the game, and PKMN just shows a screen with your Pokémon’s Hit Points, something that’s on the main battle screen anyway.)  You’ll have two moves- a damaging attack, and a stat-affecting move.  To win this, it’s generally best to just spam your damage attack until the battle ends.

From there, Blue immediately decides that he’s picked the wrong Pokémon if he loses, and taunts you if he wins.  What a nice guy.

In Yellow, the entire scene above plays out very differently.  The first thing that you see in the lab is a single Poké Ball sitting on Oak’s table.  Oak tells you to take it, but Blue physically knocks you out of the way, grabs it, and refuses to hand it over.  What probably makes this scene worse is that Oak hears Blue refuse to give it up, and caves immediately.  According to the manual and in-game dialogue, Blue is Oak’s grandson, but my grandparents wouldn’t put up with such a display of assholery from me at any age.

With no Pokémon on the table, that means that you’re out of luck, right?  Not so fast!  Oak still has that Pikachu!  He gives it to you, and sends you on your way- or he tries to.  Blue isn’t quite done screwing you over just yet, so he drags you into a battle.  Afterwards, the scene plays out much the same as in Red and Blue, with the additional detail that your Pikachu breaks out of its Ball, and starts following you around.  Turns out that he doesn’t like Poké Balls- and at first, he doesn’t like you either.  The more you travel with him, the more at ease with you he gets.  This serves little gameplay purpose, but it’s a fun feature nevertheless.

All three games continue similarly from this point onward.  You head North to Viridian City, but you’re blocked from two directions- to the north, there’s some bastard lying on the ground, screaming at passers-by about the path you’re on being his private property.  Apparently, he hasn’t had his coffee yet.  That’s not a joke- that’s literally the very slim justification that the game provides for this man’s behavior.  According to what I’ve read on the internet, the Japanese version has him hung over, but that’s not much of a justification either.

The other roadblock is to the west- a massive building past some tall grass.  You can enter it, but you don’t get past the lobby without an item called the Boulderbadge- Pokémon League certification that you’ve beaten the first Gym Leader.

So, in Viridian City, you’re left twiddling your thumbs, looking for something to do.  You experimentally poke your head into a few of the buildings, and start to learn their various functions.  The Pokémon Center is where you heal your Pokémon.  The random houses are where you go for pointers, gossip, and sometimes plot developments.  The Poké Marts- actually, you don’t find out what they do on the first run through, as you immediately get dragged over to the counter, handed a package for Professor Oak.  You don’t get much more than a “Go complete this fetch quest!” from the clerk, so it’s time to backtrack back to Pallet Town.

Once you give the Prof his parcel, Blue shows up, and Oak gives the two of you each a tool called a Pokédex.  Basically, you capture a Pokémon (or evolve an existing one,) and the Pokédex updates with some very, very basic information about the species, and records it as caught.  This is the start of the catch-em-all subplot mentioned above.  Blue acts like an ass on his way out, back to the plot.

Once back in Viridian, the guy in the road is up and mobile.  In Red and Blue, he gives you the option of a Pokémon capture tutorial.  In Yellow, this man screamed at you, refused to let you pass, and in the end, has the gall to force you to watch him fail to capture a Weedle.  Anyway, once that finishes, you head over to the building marked “Gym,” eager for a battle to get the story in gear.  Oh, wait, the Gym Leader’s out.  You can’t find any way to bring him back, so you head North, into the area called the Viridian Forest.  Or, as many fans recognize it, Grinding Zone #1.

As a side note, you can instead head over to the west again to have an optional battle with Blue.  Assuming your starter’s at a high enough level (~10 or so,) you can thrash him with little issue.  In Yellow, this and the first battle are actually used to determine something much later in the game, so this time, the battle actually counts towards something.  If you haven’t gone back into the Mart by now to purchase some Poké Balls, you can head back to Pallet Town, and Oak will just give you some Poké Balls.  This generally isn’t worth it, however, as it forces you to go with just your starter until after a fairly difficult battle with your rival.

Now, we’ve hit somewhere between the 30 and 45-minute mark.  Hasn’t it been riveting?

One of the things that a large number of fans have rightfully complained about in regards to Pokémon is the excuse plot for the main series games.  In the first hour to an hour and a half, nothing of note happens.  It isn’t until after the first gym that anything interesting happens, plot-wise.  That’s around the time that the player runs into Team Rocket, the villains of the game.  There is, however, one massive problem with Team Rocket in these games.

What kind of problem?  Well, in 2nd Gen, every time you encounter Team Rocket, they’re involved in some act of wrongdoing.  3rd Gen, same with Teams Aqua and Magma.  Same in 4th for Team Galactic.  Same in 5th for Plasma.

1st Gen Team Rocket are the villains, and for half of the game, that’s all the justification you’re given for fighting them.  I’m dead serious about that.  At Mt Moon, they claim to be after fossils to steal, but the way the game plays out, it seems more likely that if you find a fossil, it’s yours.  In Celadon City, their only crime was having a base under a casino.  Lavender Town, they begin to become menacing, kidnapping an innocent man to…  do what, exactly?  They do kill a Pokémon, though.  A Pokémon known for combat efficiency.  Look, they’re evil, all right?

The last time you encounter them, they’re actually involved in an act of villainy- they seize the head office of the Silph company building.  Who are Silph?  Basically, they’re responsible for just about every item you use in the game.  So, that’s actually a half-decent act of wrongdoing.  The last time you encounter one of them, it’s their boss, Giovanni (no, really, Don Giovanni,) who turns out to be the final Gym Leader.  A fight that, once again, you instigate.

The other plot of the game basically boils down to “move forward until your way is blocked, then find the person or item that can unblock it, and then repeat.”  There is very little of substance after that, minus some flavor-related stuff that is not only optional, but you have to go out of your way to find it (such as Mewtwo’s origin.)  Post-credits, the only thing that happens is the opening of Cerulean Cave, and the continuation of the catch-em-all quest.

In terms of story, this is a very dull game.

However, if you want a strong story, what are you doing on a Game Boy?

What you played the Game Boy and others of its kind for was the game- the story came second.  So, how does the gameplay stack up?

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Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow- Intro

If you grew up in the late 90s or early 00s, you probably had one of these:

For those not in the know, that’s the Nintendo Game Boy Color, probably one of the greatest handhelds of all time.  This thing was amazing- color graphics on a Nintendo handheld!  Battery life that blew the then-dying Game Gear out of the water!  Extreme durability!  Seriously, that one in the picture still works today, and I got it from my grandmother, who in turn picked it up at a garage sale.  Even if it was picked up in the console’s dying days, that’s still a ten-year-old console.  I know XBoxes that haven’t lived that long.

But if there was one thing that you had any game system for, it was the games.  And the GBC up there delivered.  It had three Zelda games (one of which was a color upgrade of a classic black-and-white Game Boy game.)  It had a port of Mario Bros from the NES.  It had Harry Potter.  It was completely backward compatible with every classic Game Boy game, and that had hundreds of incredible games as well.  It’s safe to say that this system could have lasted a lot longer than it did, and it was a real shame that the DS dropped compatibility.

But if there’s one game that you had to get for your collection, one game that you had no excuse not to own, one that would devour hours at a time from your schedule, then that would be this game, right here:

Pokémon.  Back then, this was THE game.  Or, in actuality, THE three games.  You see, Pokémon has never had a typical release.  Generally, Pokémon gets two games per release, usually with similar names, such as Red and Blue, Gold and Silver, or Black and White. This is followed up within a year or two by a third version, which is more of an updated rerelease.  Pokémon Yellow, shown above, was the first “third version” to be released stateside.

On the subject of the US, let’s talk for a moment about the opening years of the game.  In Japan, Pokémon was kind of a sleeper hit, and over five years, four main series games were released (thank you, Bulbapedia.)  It had an anime, a card game, and a number of manga (Japanese comics.)  The craze was going over there, but it had five years from the release of Red and Green versions until Generation II began.

Now, stateside, Nintendo realized what a cash cow the franchise was, and decided to milk it for all it was worth.  How?  Well, for starters, they aired the anime first.  They used the appeal that the show had to sell everything else, and an empire was born.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a small kid for a moment.  You’ve just finished watching the The New Batman/Superman Adventures, and are ready for the next show to come on.  Then suddenly, from out of nowhere, an ad comes on TV, promoting a new show.  It has action!  Adventure!  True companions!  Competition!  Villains!  Romance (Pokéshipping forever!)  And a little rodent thing that shoots lightning!  All the while, bad 90s pop music plays in the background, drawing you in, telling you that you can be a master if you catch ’em all.

Some of us don’t need to imagine that scenario, having lived it.  However, whether you were taken in or not, Pokémon mania hit the US like a truck, and just kept going.  Kids learned how to play card games on the playground.  Game Boys sold like hotcakes.  Allegations of racism were thrown at one particular character.  Charizard cards sold for hundreds of dollars.  Über-Christian groups labeled it as satanic without knowing anything about it.  It was your basic craze, and it lasted a good long while.

And it all started with a single pair of games for a handheld system.  That’s pretty cool.

Now, concerning Generation 1, there is a large pitfall that must be addressed before we go any farther- nostalgia.  Most people I know have very fond memories of this generation, and it isn’t tough to see why.  The first two gens were integral to our early childhoods, and my glasses are probably a bit more rose-tinted than many other people’s (especially considering that I ended up without access to any Pokémon-related material for about four years, but that’s a story for another time.)  So, in order to review this objectively, I’ll get this out of the way beforehand.

Ahem.

OH MY GOD FIRST GEN IS SO FREAKING AWESOME!  I REMEMBER THIS GAME FROM WHEN I WAS A KID!  IT WAS COOL THEN, AND IT’S EVEN BETTER NOW!

Okay, then.  Now that that’s out of my system, let’s get on with the actual review.

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Site Mission Statement

Hello, and welcome to my blog!  I’m Tom Pokénutter.  As my username would suggest, I’m a huge fan of Pokémon.  The purpose of this blog is to look back at as many products from the history of Pokémon as possible, and review them.  I’ll be reviewing games, anime episodes, manga, the trading card game, movies, and even the official soundtracks here.

 

Even though I have a lot of material at my fingertips, I’m not aware of all that’s ever been, and as such, may require help.  I will take requests for reviews, but make sure that I haven’t already done them, or accepted them.  Your request, should I accept it, could take a while to get to- I plan on starting with the First Generation, and moving forward.  Comment here, and I’ll get back to you.

 

Any questions that aren’t addressed here, please ask below, and I’ll answer, assuming I haven’t for someone else already.

 

Thank you!

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