"It stole my time.... and I don't regret it"

Pokemon is now the second selling franchise of all time right behind Mario. And this is only because Mario had about a 10 year start. Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue were the first of these games. And they sucked a whole bunch of time from my life. Hell, I still buy Pokemon games and spend countless hours on them. But they'll never be able to match the magic of when I, a naive young boy, played Pokemon for the very first time… The story starts as you, a twelve year old boy who wants to become the Pokemon Master. You achieve this by going around and defeating eight gym leaders before squaring off against the Elite Four. You do this though Pokemon battles. As I'm sure you know, Pokemon are creatures that you must capture and train. After receiving your first Pokemon from Professor Oak, you'll immediately be engaged in a battle with Oak's son. He ends up being your rival along the way. It isn't quite as simple as just beating eight gym leaders. To get from town to town you'll have to navigate through forests and caves battling trainers along the way. You'll also need to stop Team Rocket, a sinister organization. You'll encounter new people and new events throughout the game making this game exciting at all times.

Pokemon is an RPG but not like Final Fantasy. You can have up to six Pokemon in your party. You can have more but they get stored in your PC. As you go from area to area you can go into grass or fish to encounter wild pokemon. These wild pokemon are cacheable. Each pokemon has the ability to use four different attacks. More on attacks later. Each pokemon has their own unique stats for Attack, Defense, Speed and Special. As you battle Trainers other Pokemon and wild pokemon your pokemon will gain levels and learn new abilities. Many pokemon even evolve into stronger Pokemon. There are 151 pokemon total in this game. Most can be captured at various areas around the world. Some have to be fished up while others have to be traded for. The big difference between Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue is the fact that some pokemon are exclusive to only one version. Fortunately, you can trade between the two games. In addition to being able to trade, you can also battle your friends. This was huge back in the day and it still is popular even today. Completing your Pokedex by catching all 151 pokemon is a common goal for most owners of these games.

Attacks are actually more complex than meets the eye. For starters, there are 15 different types of Pokemon. Grass, Water, Fire, Bug, Poison, Flying, Ground, Rock, Dragon, Psychic, Ice, Fighting, Ghost, Normal and Electric. Each type has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Fire does well against Grass, Water goes well against Fire, Grass does well against Water. Psychic does well against Fighting, Ice does good against Ground, Rock does good against Ice. Many pokemon even have dual types and can some can perform attacks that aren't necessarily of their type (A water pokemon using a normal or ice move). In addition to being many types of attacks, the attacks are also divided into physical or special. Normal and Rock would be examples of psychical while fire and Psychic would be considered special. Not all moves are attack moves either. There are many supporting abilities like Recover which restores that particular pokemon's life or Leer which would lower your opponents defense. In addition to moves that are simply used in battle there are several moves that can be used out of battle. Cut is used to chop down bushes. Fly is used to revisit towns you've been to. Teleport and Dig are used for escaping. Surf allows you to cross the water. Strength allows you to move boulders and Flash lightens up the area. That reminds me, there are TMs and HMs in this game. There are 50 TMs and they are used to teach Pokemon abilities that they usually would not naturally learn. However, once they are used they are gone permanently. HMs have the same purpose but they can be used over and over again. They do not expire. As with most RPGs, there are also status effects that can be used against you but you can also use them to your advantage. There is poison, paralysis, burn, freeze, confusion and sleep. They are an integral part of the game but they make the game play all the better. Although in these early Pokemon games, sleep was broken.. as was paralysis/wrap combos…. Lastly, also like in most RPGs, there is money which you earn from trainers. The money is used to buy stuff for your pokemon. Potions, way to heal your status effects, pokeballs for catching pokemon etc. There is just so much in the world of Pokemon.

The graphics are actually very good for a GameBoy game. Sure, by today's standards they are primitive and different but they all started here. The towns and dungeons are also recognizable and I know I was amazed by the visual aspect as a kid when I first played these games. The soundtrack in this game is okay. It is the origin of many classic tunes still in use today so these games deserve credit for that. What really was cool is that each Pokemon had their own unique “cry”. While these cries were usually simple, they added to the individuality of each Pokemon. Looking back on this game, it was flawed. For starters, it was a Glitch haven. You could get unlimited items using a duplication trick which would allow for instant Level 100 pokemon. There were also methods that could be used to make pokemon appear where they shouldn't. In addition to these glitches there was also a major balance issue. The Psychic type dominated the game play. These issues would be fixed in later versions but they were very apparent in the original games. The difficulty in this game can be hard or easy depending if you raise your Pokemon well. Even if you don't raise them that well the game is still very much beatable. On my very first play through all I used was my trusty Venusaur and while I struggled on the Elite Four, I did ultimately beat them. Pokemon probably has the best replay value out of any game. Period. I've had countless files on just Pokemon Red. The possibilities of choosing different starters, different teams, different move sets. It's a unique experience each time!

Storyline: 10/10
Game Play: 8/10
Sound/Music: 8/10
Graphics: 10/10
Difficulty/Replay Value: 10/10

Overall: 46/50 = 92% = 9

Pokemon was once a huge craze but due to some poor marketing, it became “uncool” and something that was viewed as “kiddy”. This is quite simply not true as Pokemon is actually a very well integrated RPG with some very deep game play. These games are much less complex than the later Pokemon games but that doesn't discredit how deep this game is in any way. Pokemon is undoubtedly one of the best series out there and it all started with two games. Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. I must commend Nintendo for putting some different Pokemon in these two games. This meant a lot of people ended up buying both versions despite them being essentially the same. I've spent months worth of time on Pokemon and even though the balance issues look pretty dim compared to nowadays Pokemon games, I simply cannot bring myself to give this game lower than a 9. The Pokemon world is an amazing one and whether you're battling trainers, fishing, trying to capture a legendary or simply riding up and down the bike path, these games have provided and unforgettable experience.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/03/06


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