Review by Link165
"The game that started a franchise, and it's still actually pretty good."
Pokemon. It's been called a fad by some, satanic spawn by Christian groups, but no matter what, we can all agree on one thing: Pokemon is huge. Numerous pokemon games have been created in the past 10 years, and it has turned into one of Nintendo's largest franchises ever. It's a cash crop. The number of pokemon has increased from 151 to 486. I no longer find fun in the Pokemon games due to the fact Nintendo has milked it repeatedly, and in the later games the pokemon are boring. Make no mistake though, the original two games, Red and Blue, are fantastic. Not only did this start a franchise, it arguably saved Nintendo.
Pokemon Red takes place in the fictional region of Kanto(however, you are never told this in the game). You are a trainer- you can name him whatever you want- in the very small, cozy place of Pallet Town. One day, the town's leading researcher-and one of the best in the world-, Professor Oak, wants to talk to you. Eventually he gives you a pokemon of your choice and your mission: capture all 150 pokemon and become a pokemon master.
The majority of the time, you'll be in the overworld wandering around, looking for trainers to fight and pokemon to capture. The main goal of the game(besides capturing all of the pokemon) is to beat the Elite Four, the four best trainers in the world. To do this, you must collect 8 badges from around the region from Gym Leaders. Gym Leaders are pokemon trainers that specialize in a specific type of pokemon, and are much more powerful then the average trainer. They even have buildings, called gyms, that they fight in, along with a few other trainers.
Each pokemon has a different type. There are many in the game. Ghost, Rock, Water, and Fire are a few examples. Each type is strong against against at least one other, while it is ALSO weaker to one or more other types. Take the three starter pokemon you can choose from, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander for example. Charmander is a fire type, Bulbasaur is grass type, and Squirtle is water. Charmander's fire easily destroys Bulbasaur's grass, but is beaten by Squirtle's water. Squirtle can beat charmander but is beaten by Bulbasaur. As if the game hates you, your rival(who can also be named) will pick the pokemon that beats your type.
Once you enter battle, the game screen changes. A white background with both pokemon appear on screen, with your pokemon viewed from the back. The battle screen has four different options; fight, pkmn, item, and run. Fight is the main one, what your pokemon uses to attack. Each pokemon can learn four moves, some do damage to the other pokemon, some affect it's status(it can be poisoned, burned, fall asleep so it can't attack, etc), and others affect a pokemon's stats(increase your offense, decrease the other's speed, etc). "Pkmn" is short for pokemon, and it is the menu you use to switch pokemon during battle. Item is your inventory, filled with things that can be used during and out of battle, such as health restoring items(and in fights against wild pokemon, pokeballs). Run can only be used during wild battles, it allows you to leave but doesn't always work.
When your pokemon defeats another in battle, it gains experience points. After a pokemon gains enough experience points in battle, it goes up a level, increasing all of it's stats and making it stronger. After pokemon get to a specific level, they can learn a new move that will help in battle. After going up a specific amount of levels, some pokemon evolve into another species. For example, Bulbasaur evolves into Ivysaur, and Ivysaur in turn evolves into Venusaur. Getting experience is not the only way to level up a pokemon however, and of course, if you don't want your pokemon to evolve you can always stop it.
During a battle with a wild pokemon, you have the opportunity to catch it. To do this, you will have to attack the pokemon as much as you can without causing it to faint, and then toss an item called a Pokeball at it. After that, you have a chance of the pokemon staying inside, and if it does, it's yours to keep and train. You can only keep 6 pokemon with you at a time, the rest get stored inside a special storage area and you can switch another pokemon for one at any pokemon center you come across.
As your pokemon can be hurt in battle too, you have to bring them to a pokemon center to restore them to full health. Every town you encounter in the game has a pokemon center, and it also has a store in which you can buy items such pokeballs, revives(to bring fainted pokemon back to battle status without a pokemon center), healing potions, and other things.
But the game is not all battling. There are points in the game where you will have to stop the evil Team Rocket, an organization that wants to enslave pokemon and use them to make money and for battle. A few times in the game you'll have to progress through a building, and not only battle numerous rocket members but do things such as finding a keycard to open locked doors and navigating throughout a hideout via numerous confusing teleporters.
Pokemon Red's gameplay has enough to keep you satisfied and playing for a long time, but most importantly it's a lot of fun.
The graphics are unfortunately not a high point. Being designed for the Game Boy, Pokemon red has no color if played on a Game Boy. If you play the game on a gameboy color, all characters in the world will turn green, white, and black, and the entire environment will change to shades of red, and the ground is white. The game takes place from a top down view similar to the 2D Zelda games. The buildings are incredibly out of proportion compared to the people(who don't look too much better). The pokemon sprites out of battle aren't very numerous, several share the same one. Your opponent's pokemon in battle look good(but some of them look terrible compared to what they look like now, Pidgey for example). When in battle, your pokemon is viewed from the back, and it looks...VERY bad. It's no more then a bunch of enlarged pixels. Some pokemon aren't even recognizable from the back. The attack visuals are slightly generic and boring but definitely a high point.
Again, the sound is not the greatest. Each pokemon has a "cry" in the game, and they sound nothing like an animal. Maybe a dying one, but definitely not one in good health. There are four different battle tunes in the game(one for wild pokemon, one for trainer battles, one for gym leaders, and one for the final battle). All of them are ok the first few times but get very old, very fast. On the upside, the numerous overworld themes all sound ok. There are some small tones in the game that play when you turn on a computer, open a door, or go on an elevator. There is also no voice acting in the game for any characters.
One area where Pokemon Red really shines is its replay value. There are 150 pokemon to capture if you want to fill up your pokedex(151 if you count mew). Some of these pokemon can't even be caught in the game, you have to trade with a friend if you want to get every single one. Every pokemon in the game can be leveled up to 100. It takes forever to get one pokemon to 100, imagine having to obtain all 150 and level all of them to 100. Trainers can not be battled more than once(except for the Elite Four) but wild pokemon can be fought whenever you feel like. Pokemon Red has a large amount of replay and you will come back to the game after you've beaten it.
AMOUNT OF VIOLENCE
Pokemon has come under scrutiny by Christian fanatics for being a game where you reportedly teach your pets to fight and kill other people's pets. As Lex Luthor would say....WRONG. Pokemon don't die in the game, they just get knocked out(however, the pokemon tower is essentially a graveyard for already dead pokemon). Team Rocket, the antagonist force in the game, don't really do anything hurtful, they just want to rule pokemon and make them servants.
Pokemon Red is one of the highest selling games ever, and it launched what is now one of Nintendo's biggest franchises. Numerous games, cards, and plastic piece-of-crap action figures have been released based on pokemon, and the original 151 pokemon now have been expanded to over 400. The original games I still find a lot of fun to play, even though I don't care for pokemon anymore. Red definitely has its flaws, but it is overall a great game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/13/07
Game Release: Pokemon Red Version (US, 09/30/98)
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