Review by TheRedneck14
"The Game That Started The Phenomenon"
In 1998, Pokemon Red landed on American shores and brainwashed millions of kids into buying them, children all across the Continent amassed a large collection of Pokemon goodies very quickly, draining the wallets of the parents of the children who hopped aboard this fad. Well, honestly, how many of us on here who were born in the early 90's did not become obsessed with Pokemon, I know I was for a few years until the Anime started to get immensely repetitive. But this game, created by Satoshi Tajiri and the people over at Game Freak created a phenomenon, and even the haters cannot deny that.
The story of the first Pokemon games is relatively simple, you start off as Ash Ketchum [or "Red" as his default name was in the game], and you want to become a Pokemon Master, which is done by collecting all 151 Pokemon, defeating the 8 Gym Leaders, and whomping The Elite Four. You also have to deal with your rival Gary [or "Blue"... I swear to god they really named the characters that], and the evil Team Rocket, who are some kind of pseudo-gangsters who just want to steal Pokemon. Yes, the story is not really "epic" for an RPG, but I don't think that the Developers really intended for Pokemon to become as big as it did. The entire game was just about collecting little monsters anyway.
As I said before the entire game is about collecting Pokemon, and defeating the many other trainers you will find in the game. The majority of the game will have you exploring the typical 8-Bit Overworld you would have in most RPG's back them, and you have to go into patches of grass [or other areas, like caves, or water] to find Pokemon, that you are supposed to weaken and catch with a Pokeball. Although you need to remember this, you can't find all 150 [151 counting Mew] on one game, you need to trade between Red and Blue for all of them, there will be more on that later. You also have to battle the trainers who can have up to 6 different Pokemon [as can you], and you have to beat them after you encounter them to win money.
The training of the Pokemon you have is also a big part of the game, as I said you can have 6 Pokemon at one time [the rest are stored in a "PC" where you can swap your current ones for the ones in there], and you have to battle so they can level up, and evolve into more powerful forms, and learn more attacks so you can battle better.
The battle system is simple, you have four different attacks, and you can use items in battle to restore health, or fix status ailments, revive a "fainted" Pokemon, or capture wild Pokemon. Like in most RPG's, you take turns either attacking your opponent, or using some of the items you have. You also need to know how to use your Pokemon, some types have advantages over other ones; i.e. Charizard is a fire type, Venusaur is a Grass type, Charizard has a type advantage because Fire attacks do more damage to Grass types, there are also resistances, such as Pikachu's electric attacks not doing any damage to the rock type Geodude. You also need to be smart with the moves your Pokemon knows, you can use weak attacks that have a lot of Power Points, or strong ones that don't have a lot of PP, such as; Psychic which is powerful, but only has 10 PP, while Ember which is weak has 25 PP. You can't overload your Pokemon with brutal attacks, otherwise you could run out of moves and you would only be able to "struggle" [a weak attack that hurts the opponent, and yourself].
It sounds complicated at first, but it is easy to get used to. The entire system of these games worked well, except the fact that you need to trade between two different games to find all of the Pokemon, and some of the menus are frustrating to navigate.
The campaign in Pokemon is quite simple, it should not be very hard to beat everyone if you know what you're doing, I know that the Pokemon I had often outleveled my opponents by a good sized margin, and the AI is pathetic enough to be blown by fast enough [think of the guy with 6 Magikarps that only know "Splash", and how even your weaklings can own them]. The real challenges are some of the Gym Leaders and the Elite Four, and having the patience to collect all of the Pokemon in the game and complete your "Pokedex", which will require two Game Boy's, a Link Cable, and a copy of Pokemon Red and Blue, or a friend with the Game that you can link up with. But if you don't want to do everything, the game can be blown through in about 10/15 hours on a first try [for me at least].
The controls are basic stuff [the Game Boy only has 3 main buttons!], so everything was simple enough to do, but the problem I had was that sometimes the menus were slow to navigate, and some things [such as browsing through the "Boxes" in the "PC" took a long time to do unless you knew what you were looking for. Other than that, nothing really irked me.
For a Game Boy game, Pokemon Red looked good. The game is monochromatic [unless you play on one of the newer Game Boy models] which means there is no color, but the art was done quite well in most of the game. The Overworld was simple looking, and it just conveyed where you were, nothing else really, and all of the character Sprites on the Overworld were relatively simple looking. But in battles, there was a well-done generic character Sprite, and the Pokemon were all well done, most of them looked great [NOTE: some of the Pokemon look different than the Anime, but this game first came out in 1996 in Japan, the Anime began a year after that, some of the designs were changed]. If you like sprites, the graphics should look good you, but if you only play 3D games you won't like them.
Pokemon Red sounds pretty good.
The music is good most of the time, I did not like some of the overworld songs, but I like most of them. But almost all of the music that plays during a battle is good, and they usually get better when you are playing against a tougher trainer [Gym Leader, Rival, Elite Four].
The sound effects are basic stuff, but the Game Boy makes them sound cooler in some way. With some attacks like the Hyper Beam, the way they sound on here is better than how they sound on the newer games. And it is nice to see that all of the Pokemon got a different voice.
I never felt really immersed by this game, you did feel like you were training Pokemon sometimes, and the battles got you into the game, but honestly that is enough for me. A game like this does not need an incredibly immersive story.
The Multiplayer was simple enough, all you need is a friend with a Game Boy and a Link Cable and you can fight against a trainer who knows how to use actual strategy [you know... fighting back instead of using Growl the entire time], it makes the game a lot more fun. And you can trade Pokemon, one of the good things about it is that some Pokemon will evolve when they are traded... well its good for your buddy unless you re-trade for it. Everything works well except for having to save before you start, and the inconvenience of the Link Cable, thank god for Wi-Fi huh?
For me the main reason to keep playing these games is to get my party powered up as high as I can, then having a Marathon butt-whomping of the Elite Four, but you may want to try collecting all of the Pokemon, and if you do good luck because it will really test your patience doing that.
Good graphics, well done battle system, addictive, beats the hell out of the Anime.
Wimpy AI, you need to buy two games to collect all of the Pokemon... unless you have a friend who will trade with you, bad menu.
Should you get it: You should get it, this is probably one of the best games for the Game Boy, and it can be found easily at used game stores.
The people at Game Freak spent five years on this game [I swear to god, look it up], but I bet that even they did not know what a cultural phenomenon they had unleashed on the world with this game, and although it is downright archaic by today's standards, this is still an incredible game that was probably the first of its kind. Pokemon is probably THE reason to own the old Game Boy.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/13/09
Game Release: Pokemon Red Version (US, 09/30/98)
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