Review by RavenousGuy
"A solid fun of its own...despite being essentially the same game as in Red/Blue"
The Red/Blue games were a handheld hit, but the popularity of the Pokemon franchise has only expanded worldwide after the airing of the animated series. Benefitting from the TV show's success, Nintendo pulled yet another marketing stunt by releasing Pokemon Yellow; the third game of the first-generation Pokemon RPG games. Its concept and gameplay are nearly identical with Pokemon Red/Blue, but it has enough gimmicks (mostly from the TV show) to be different enough; so that it would be considered as a game on its own, not just another packaging of the same game. Most noticeably, it starred the most famous Pokemon species in the world: Pikachu!
Pokemon Yellow brought back the same amazing and addictive system of raising Pokemon, that was first introduced in Pokemon Red/Blue. Your task is to capture and train the creatures for battles, and subsequently assemble a party of six Pokemon to tackle the challenges provided in the game. The emphasis of this game is in thinking and deciding which Pokemon you're going to use, what techniques they will learn, and what the combination in your battling party will be. Things like elemental type (determining the Pokemon's strength and weakness), evolution (a process when some Pokemon transform into a stronger species), and technique compatibility also added much depth to the strategy aspect of the game.
Likewise, the locations and events in the game are very familiar as well, as you plowed through a bug-infested forest, a haunted tower, an abandoned lab, and many others. There is an unavoidable sense of deja vu if you have played either the Red or Blue version; in essence, it's still the same game! However, the Yellow version did just enough to create a significantly different experience, by adding some spices that made several aspects of the game resemble those of the Pokemon TV series.
The most obvious gimmick in Pokemon Yellow is Pikachu; a cute (or infuriating, depending on your taste) electrical mouse who is also the main Pokemon protagonist in the TV series. Instead of having to choose between three Pokemon like in Red/Blue, you will start your journey with Pikachu, and it will follow you around the screen. Pikachu has a collection of animations that will appear when you tried to interact with it, determined by its happiness meter'. Basically, by keeping it on your party and using it on battles, it'll get gradually happier. It isn't forced though; if you can't stand this Pokemon, you can just ditch it out.
Other re-creation for the TV series faithfuls is the access given to capture Pokemon owned by Ash, the TV series' main protagonist. You can have the three Red/Blue starters (Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle) in your party at once, just like Ash did; in fact, the portrait of the game's main character looks a lot like him. Characters and small tidbits from the series are also present; the most noticeable one is Team Rocket Trio, who was considered by many as the series' main appeal.
Beside that, there are very little new things that the Yellow version offered. The exploration remains pretty much identical, and so does the whole mechanic of Pokemon raising and battling. Some Pokemon does, however, learned techniques in a slightly different way than they did in Red/Blue. Such as Pikachu, who get some new techniques and learn the old ones at different levels. Overall, Pokemon Yellow had 137 different species of Pokemon, out of 150; so, you still need to link and trade with the other versions to complete your Poke'dex.
The plot from Red/Blue also made their way back; you're still a boy who embarked on a Pokemon quest, made your way to the Pokemon League by defeating powerful trainers, and confronted the nefarious plot of an evil organization along the way. Not really great, honestly. The inclusion of Pikachu, Team Rocket Trio and several TV series-related events help to make the game a little bit more interesting, but not enough to improve the plot's mediocrity. In the end, all of it feels more like a gimmick than an actual improvement.
Graphic & Sound
Visually, the game offers graphical improvement than the previous installments. It's not exactly a facelift, but you'll see the differences if you play it on Game Boy Color. Whereas Pokemon Red/Blue were limited to a very few variation of palette swap, Pokemon Yellow really exploded with colors. Now, places like Vermillion City or Cinnabar Island have its own visual distinctions, and is more eye-pleasing than before. The art design for the Pokemon is also changed for the better, as some of them now closely resembled their TV counterparts.
In the sound department, Pokemon Yellow maintained exactly the same musical scores from before. The new things mostly come from Pikachu, who have a nice variation of audio samples to expresses its mood. As long as you're not a Pikachu-hater, it's pretty good.
Aside from the fact that you don't get to choose your starting Pokemon (you're stuck with Pikachu, like it or not), this game still has the same addictive essence as in the Red/Blue game. Whether it's hunting for rare Pokemon; trying to finish the game with a different party of Pokemon; or just have a whole loads of fun from the link-cable battles with fellow players; months will be devoted if you want to truly experience all that's inside the cartridge.
The Good Points:
(+) Pikachu (if you actually like it....)
(+) The extremely addictive gameplay
(+) Better looking than the Red/Blue titles, especially in Pokemon art design
(+) The gimmicks from the TV series
The Bad Points:
(-) Pikachu (if you despise it)
(-) You may feel cheated...since truthfully, it's just a modified replica of Pokemon Red/Blue
Pokemon Yellow really feels like Pokemon Red/Blue with added features, and it might not worth the purchase if you have already owned and played Red/Blue. However, it's still a great game on its own; and because of the enhanced visual, some people might prefer it more than the Red/Blue games. The gimmicks might either attracted you or turned you off, but it's a decent adaptation from the very popular TV series.
If you're a TV series fan, Pikachu fan, or the kind of people who simply have to own all kind of Pokemon games available (Poke'maniacs?), this game is a must to have.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 01/28/09, Updated 06/26/09
Game Release: Pokemon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (US, 10/19/99)
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