Review by Mega

"Cute, cuddly, and flawed..."

This game started the terribly repetitive monster-training genre. A game will attempt to fool you by adding robots or cards instead of the monsters, but it is still the same game. All the time, there is some almighty monster trainer who either has a life in seclusion or in a stadium of some sort. All the time, they have a few super strong hidden monsters that are powerful. You always have to travel around the world and train your monster to tackle the best trainers around (i.e. gym leaders). You always collect more monsters to improve your collection. Is a little originality too much to ask?

The hit anime, Pokemon, is one of the most popular shows today. The cartoon follows the story of young Ash Ketchum (HYUCK! Tharts a knee slapper, Paw!), a Pokemon trainer on the road to becoming a Pokemon Master. On the travels, he has two friends, Misty and Brock. Both of his friends were Gym Leaders, but left to travel around with Ash. Ash’s Pikachu is supposedly a very rare and powerful type, and that gets the attention of the show’s villains. Team Rocket is a team of Pokemon thieves that will stop at nothing to get what they want. The ruthless Giovanni runs them. The three Rockets that always attempt to catch Pikachu go by the names of Jesse, James, and Meowth. Meowth is a Pokemon who taught himself to talk in the hopes of impressing a female Meowth, but she turned down his advances. Team Rocket always fails spectacularly, and rocket into the sky due to one of Pikachu’s powerful attacks. This show, while it does have it moments, is a laughably predictable event. Team Rocket never wins. Brock always fawns over some girl, and Misty is a butch and bossy bitch. Ash whines, and Pikachu acts cute. This game, which was based on the TV show, is actually nothing like the show. We do have a few similarities here and there, but not enough to call this “Based on the TV show!”

The story starts out in the small town of Pallet. A young boy (you) wakes up and gets dressed, ready to go to Professor Oak’s Lab to get his first Pokemon. As soon as he enters a grassy path leading to the next town, Professor Oak runs up and tells him that grass is dangerous, and powerful and mean Pokemon could be waiting there. Just then, a Pikachu appears and Oak quickly captures it in a Pokeball. Oak drags you to his Lab where he talks about his past in Pokemon research, studies, and training. He also speaks about the next town, where an important parcel is waiting for him. He has your Pokemon for you, but he first wants you to go to the next city, get his parcel, and bring it back. You agree, and reach out to grab the Pokeball which houses what was meant to be your first Pokemon, Eevee. Just then, Oak’s grandson bursts into the lab, complaining about how he was suppose to get his first Pokemon today. Oak tells him to wait, but he whines and pushes you out of the way and grabs the Eevee. He then rushes out of the lab, heading out for his own Pokemon adventure. Oak mutters something about how his grandson is so pushy, and looks at you reluctantly. He decides to give you that Pikachu he just caught. He hands you the Pikachu’s Pokeball, but it shakes and the Pikachu pops out. The Pikachu doesn’t like the Pokeball, and will follow behind you on your adventure. You set out for the next town, heading to get Oak’s parcel, and your own personal Pokemon adventure.

Playing as the young boy, you must travel around the world on a Pokemon adventure. The standard test for Pokemon trainers is to defeat the 8 Gym Leaders, and then compete against the Elite Four and the Pokemon Master to earn your place in history. Of course, you won’t be able to win with that Pikachu alone. As you travel, you’ll run into caves, seas, and dense grass. Hidden in these places are different Pokemon. If you walk around enough inside them, a Pokemon will attack you. Now, using your Pokemon you have, you must weaken it enough to catch it in a Pokeball. Once the Pokemon is good and weak, toss a Pokeball and pray that you’ll catch it. Once you do, you have a new member to add to your party of Pokemon. You have two choices now; either send it inside the PC and have it wait there, or add it to your party. All trainers are allowed to carry only eight Pokemon at one time, and are able to trade and swap Pokemon through use of high-tech PCs. On your adventure, you must fight other trainer’s Pokemon to earn experience and money and level up as you would in the traditional RPG. Sure, it sounds good, but you haven’t heard the bad…

First of all, there are only two noticeable similarities with the TV show and the game. Pikachu follows you around, and Jesse and James make a few appearances. That’s about it. Now, with the gameplay faults, shall we? As soon as you pop the game in, you’ll see that you are suckered into buying/playing Pokemon Red, Blue, Gold, and Silver. Not all 150 Pokemon are in Yellow, so you must trade with friends to finish your collection. If you have no friends with R, B, G, and S, you’ll never be able to collect all 150 Pokemon, and that will give you an empty feeling. The Gym Leaders are also rather tough. Each Gym Leader focuses on one type of Pokemon, such as Brock. Brock focuses on rock types, and they are strong against most of the types you can capture early on. This means you must struggle against him, because the only type that is strong against Brock’s rock type is rather rare in the start. This only happens near the start of the game, but it will have you clawing your eyes out in frustration. Speaking of Gym Leaders, you’ll eventually be stuck against one you cannot win against. This means that you’ll still be fighting trainers’ Pokemon in order to beef up and beat that Gym Leader who is causing you trouble. Sometimes you’ll be as beefed up as you can possibly be, but you will still have a bunch of trouble trying to win. This game also suffers from something I mentioned in one of my earlier reviews as “Easy-Intense”. Easy-Intense is a syndrome that plagues most games by having you battle easy trainers, but then it tosses ridiculously hard trainers at you. This is most apparent when you first fight the Elite Four, who are extremely powerful. There will also be times when you are in the middle of nowhere, in a grassy or dark cave, and your Pokemon are barely hanging on. This means as you wander through the cave or grass, looking for an exit, you’ll run into weak or powerful Pokemon that you will need to run away from. This doesn’t sounds too bad, right? Imagine if you run into a Pokemon 30 times in one minute and your Pokemon are too weak to fight right now. This becomes extremely annoying and repetitive, and you’ll be so frustrated you’ll even be tempted to turn off the game.

With this being a semi-late GBC, the graphics are standard. We have the basic shades of colors, but nothing really outstanding. The Pokemon are great looking in the Pokedex, but during a battle they look a little goofy. Grass looks rather good, but there is only one type of grass throughout the whole game. More different types of grass would have looked great, but instead, you see only one type of grass throughout the whole game. The caves are also a little too dark for my liking, and if you play at night you’ll sometimes be straining your eyes to see your way. The trainers have different types of models, such as Biker and Lass. Each model is detailed, but… As soon as you enter a trainer battle, you see the opponent trainer and the message “Biker wants to fight”. Of course, the message changes with the trainer model. This means if you are on a path filled with Biker trainers, you’ll be seeing the same exact model constantly, and it will become a tedious eye sore. During a battle, you’ll use attacks. These attacks all have their own special animation, but don’t be expecting much. Most of the battle animations are rather rudimentary and simple.

Each town has its own music. The town’s music is just a pleasant little tune that plays, and it won’t particularly amaze or disgust you. The battle music varies, and they are the best in the audio department. The battles all have quite good and rather tense music that will put you in the mood. Each Pokemon also has its own cry, which is actually just a garbled set of notes. You hear a Pokemon’s cry whenever you see them, and you’ll soon be scrambling for a dull spoon to cut your ears off with. The other sound effects are just what you’d expect from an early GBC game. You hear clicks, booms, and beeps, and nothing that you’d expect at a time like now.

Controlling the many menus is a piece of cake. Being able to customize moves and the contents of your backpack is a joyously simple event, which I didn’t expect at all. Not much to say about the control, other then that it gets the job done perfectly.

To the young ones, Pokemon is a “super cool and totally awesome” game. No, it is not. It is an average game with superb replay, depending on how you look at it. There are 150 Pokemon in all (250 if you count Gold and Silver versions), but every version of Pokemon is missing some. In order to get these other Pokemon, you must connect with other versions of Pokemon through use of the Game Link cable and trade with other trainers. Some view this as unique while I view this as a cheap marketing ploy that talks you into buying another Game Boy and another Pokemon game to trade with yourself.

I, for one, am tired of the needed linking with other games to fully complete the game you bought. I don’t want to buy another game just so I can completely finish the one I have. Cheap tools and trying to sucker people into buying more games does not work on me, Nintendo.

NOTES:
If this wins ROTW or ROTD, I’ll lick my dirty underware.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/24/02, Updated 01/24/02


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