Review by Commander_R
"Pokemon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition"
Go Pikachu! Lightning bolt, yeah that's right!
Hello ladies and gentlemen. Today/night when we return to my reviews, I am going to focus on a Pokemon game. Specifically, I will be covering the one where we get our little friend who simply refuses to evolve or stay in a poke-ball....that's right we will be covering Pokemon Yellow version: Special Pikachu Edition...that's certainly a mouthful, try saying that 5 times fast. However, is this game worthy of a long title as it is worthy of being an extremely high-rated game? Well, lets find out....well I found out and telling you. Take that as you may, let us getting rolling and rocking into the review.
The Pokemon series was a fairly successful franchise on numerous markets, and in this particular instalment focuses on making the storyline a little closer to the cartoon series, while retaining Blue and Red`s game-play mechanics and fun which made the franchise so successful. I played one of the games briefly after playing this one, and I am glad to see that this game didn't change much from its predecessors.
For those unaware, Pokemon are fictional creatures in which reside in a fictional world, and in the earliest games in the series, you start and play in a region called Kanto. You start in a small town, Pallet Town, with only one Pokemon. Coincidentally, that Pokemon is Pikachu. Your objectives are to, using your Pokemon, work your way up, beat all the gym leaders in Pokemon combat, and proceed to battle the elite four to become the new champion. A side objective of this game includes capturing all 150 Pokemon, which is a massively difficult task. I only managed around 140, which I will get to why in a minute.
Graphics: 9/10 Considering the limitations in both size of the cartridge and the capabilities of the "Game-Boy", its really well done. Although by modern standards basic, that's all it needs. The animations are extremely well done, with few if any graphical glitches visible through conventional gaming, and the color scheming in this game was simple, yet brilliant. One thing that caught my attention early on was that when you enter different environments, there seemed to be a change in tint. By that I mean that the area would have a predominate color, such as in between towns in grassland there would be little-no tint, while in say Fuchsia City, if I remember correctly, there would be a pink tint. The developers found a clever way to use the strengths and limitations of the "Game-Boy" to its fullest in that regards.
Audio: 8/10 If audio design in this game wasn't good, then it was memorable. There were a large number of audio variations within the game, most-all of them well made. As well as your travelling and battle soundtracks, you got one for each town, the gyms got their own...there was some different for for specific bosses. As well as a good variety, there was good timing. I didn't hear the upbeat tunes while travelling in a ghost tower.
Script: 9/10 How many times have potentially awesome games made foreign been ruined by poor-quality translations? Way too many, but I am glad to say that this game isn't one of them. You see, to translate it properly from Japanese into English, and to not to cause glitches, the makers of this game reprogrammed the entire game the English markets, utilizing the original, Japanese version`s game play mechanics. That is why you see not only good-quality texts, but extremely clever wordplay with the Pokemon `s names that a simple translation from Japanese to English wouldn't have rendered under normal circumstances. It was extremely well written, and no complaints in that regard. In terms of character Dialog, it's more-often then not simple, yet that is exactly what makes the game charming. Nonetheless, there are some parts in the dialog and plot that will make you go "Huh...wait..." so depending on how you think, it will either be brilliant or it will appear as mediocre.
Game-play: 6.5/10 The game-play mechanics in this game can be broken down into the exploration/travelling, and the combat. So I will cover both of them.
Exploration/Travelling: The game is seen on a 2d overhead view of the map. You use the D pad to travel around. You can enter buildings, dungeons, and various locations. Interacting with the computer players and finding the hidden items is always enjoyable. Furthermore, if walking/using a bicycle is too tedious, you can always fly to places you already been, and to get across the water you uses a technique called surf. Overall, all of these works well together but after a while even with the flying becomes a little tedious, especially in looking for hidden items or traversing through certain dungeons. Now one thing that is interesting is the ability to trade with certain Computer players. Give them the Pokemon they want, and they will give you another of the same level. It was an interesting concept and i would have liked to see more of it in the future games I have played, although it is flawed. The main problem making the trading feature useless is that you are often trading a valuable Pokemon for an extremely common Pokemon not worth the trouble of trying to find the rare one to trade for it. There are exceptions of course to that principle, yet they are too far and few to make the trading feature with the computer players a worthwhile development.
Combat: Combat is the primary attraction for this game....and while brilliant, it is flawed. Due to time restraints, I will only describe it briefly. Basically, when you enter combat with another trainer, or wild Pokemon, you use one Pokemon at a time to fight theirs. You use one of four attacks or moves on your opponent, trying to reduce their health bar to zero. Once it is dropped down to zero, the Pokemon faints. The trainer who has their entire team of Pokemon faint first loses. Now since you can carry up to six Pokemon at any one time, and certain types of Pokemon have advantages and disadvantages over others....it allows for a lot of strategy. Furthermore, since it isn't time, you can spend a little time figuring out how to best beat your opponent with what you have at the time. However, this system is flawed. Firstly, to beat bosses and tougher opponents, you need to make your Pokemon stronger by fighting wild Pokemon or weaker trainers. However, in this instalment, trainers once beaten cannot be challenged again, and fighting wild Pokemon is extremely tedious due to wild encounters. Furthermore, the AI have a tendency to cheat, by having higher stats per move then you, and by having lower levels for evolution then you, giving them a distinct advantage. Nonetheless, if you can overlook these flaws it makes for a very fun system.
Replay Value: 5/10 Not perfect, far from it, but the replay value does work. In this game, I noticed there are two primary encouragements to play again. That would be to try and win the game with a whole new strategy, or to try and catch all 150 Pokemon. Now, because of the layout of gyms and boss battles, you do have to follow some guidelines in order to beat certain places without throwing the game at the wall after pulling half your hair out. For the last time, using an all flying team sounds fine and dandy until you reach the third gym. As for the second motive for picking this game up after you beaten it is to catch every Pokemon you can without crashing your cartridge. That is a clever technique, although there are two significant flaws with the idea. It all lays in random encounters, but these random encounters have a set number of possible Pokemon with varying chances of each one appearing, and some are impossible to catch directly from the wild. This means you will need to train certain Pokemon, which is fine but drags the game down due to the tedious nature of training in the first place. The second issue revolves around the marketing plan for this game. Even with training and long hours devoted to finding obscure Pokemon, some Pokemon are simply impossible to get without trading. That means either you need a friend with either blue/red or the Pokemon you require....or you need to own two game systems with two separate games and conduct the trades yourself. While under those circumstances you have total control, it loses some of the sense of accomplishment.
Conclusion: Pokemon went on to create one of the most popular franchises of the modern gaming world, especially for casual gamers. While the newer games are getting more advanced and technical with more Pokemon with every game, the original games has a charm is simply irreplaceable. Flawed as it is, this unique entrant in the first generation of the franchise has something special to it. Nonetheless let's tackle the question that is inevitable reached: Should you buy this game? If you're a fan of any of the newer Pokemon games, and got a system to play it on, have a look at it. It will really show you how the series you know and love evolved over the years. Also, if you have an open mind, you might see the charm that this game has. However, if you never played the series before? If you got a "Game-Boy" of some shape/form, and enjoys adventure or role play style games, it's definitely worth looking at "Pokemon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition" at the very least for a rental.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 09/07/10
Game Release: Pokemon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (US, 10/19/99)
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