Review by Ice Water

"Pokemon haters, drop the act. You know you love it."

The year was 1998, and my TV was playing some strange as hell commercials at the time. Every time a commercial break would interrupt my daily episode of Spiderman on FOX, I would be treated to this strange commercial of little Japanese monsters being sucked up by a vacuum cleaner with some voice over guy saying 'Gotta catch 'em all'. I literally thought nothing of it and waited patiently for my friggin' cartoons to come back on. Then later that year, I was told about how awesome the game was, because originally I thought it was just a puzzle game or something. But when I found out that it was something entirely different, and with the sale at Walmart that week, I decided to venture out and grab Pokemon Red. I went home and popped that bad boy into my Gameboy Classic and was treated to a fun new experience.

Story
Pokemon starts out with YOU, a 12 year old kid who one day decides that school is for fools or something and wants to become a Pokemon Trainer. Jealous of your school skipping skills is your next door neighbor and former friend. Oddly enough, you're the only two families in town and live fairly close to a Pokemon Laboratory run by your rival's grandfather, Professor Oak. Deciding to skip town one day, you run away from home only to be stopped by this old guy. Figuring out what your life's ambition is, he invites you over to his lab where your rival is waiting because he was eating cookies or something, and got tired of it. The professor tells you that you should take one of his three Pokemon and start your own journey into the world.

Not much of a story, but it has always bugged me that these kids are allowed to duck out of school at such an early age. They should have made the two characters 17 year olds or something so it would be much easier to believe, seeing how high school drop outs are more common than middle school dropouts. Point aside, you now get to choose your starting Pokemon, be it the sweet grass type Bulbasaur, the awesome fire type Charmander, or the cool water type Squirtle. Choosing whichever Pokemon does have an impact on how the game will turn out, since your rival will always choose the Pokemon that is stronger than your type. For an easy start to the game, choosing Bulbasaur would be the wise choice since he's more on the 'beginner's' level, seeing how you can learn how to deal with weakness, resistance, and super effective attacks right off the bat with him.

Gameplay
THIS is why Pokemon became such a smash hit back in 1998 and has a sub par Anime show that's still running today. This game introduced the concept of creating your own team to your own standards. Right off the bat after you can afford Pokeballs, you can set out and build up your own RPG party. And with 150 monsters to choose from, there were quite a few options you could use. Like a certain type of move? You could easily choose nothing but one or two Pokemon from that type! Every type of Pokemon had a weakness to another type, which means that no one type could be perfect. Except Nintendo forgot something in the creation of this system: They forgot to make moves that MATCHED this type! So the one major problem in this game is there are actually a few INVINCIBLE types that may take a while to defeat since Nintendo screwed up on this little matter.

Before 1998, implementing an RPG and a Baseball card idea was NEVER heard of. You may have been able to swap teammates in games like Final Fantasy 6, Final Fantasy 7, Chrono Trigger, or whatever, but you could NEVER trade them between another game. Pokemon changed the Gameboy forever, making it a REQUIREMENT to keep a link cable on hand at all times. The introduction of Trading became a radical new idea that worked. To make sure that you took advantage of this new system, the people at Nintendo created TWO separate versions of Pokemon, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. This is probably why people say they hate this game is because the only way to truly 'Catch them All' was to get/find a friend with the other version so they could trade back and forth. Despite what these people say, this was an awesome idea, seeing how the Link Cable was NEVER really used before. Pokemon gave life back to 2 player Gameboy games, which was nice, seeing how everyone had this game, and you could literally walk down the street to find someone else who had a copy. Adding onto the concept of linking up with your friends, there's the option to BATTLE your friends! Think the computer is too much of a pansy for you? No problem! Take on your friends in a tournament battle or something! Nothing but great fun can come out of it!

Music and Sound
The music of this game is a bit above your average Gameboy game. If the soundtrack was made for the SNES, then it would have been friggin' amazing at the time. Too bad the SNES was on its last legs of life, and the N64 was around now. Bummer. As for sound, there really isn't much of it. The most sound effects you get is for the cries of the Pokemon, you bumping into rocks, and the sound effects of the moves, which work out. After a while, you should be able to tell apart every Pokemon without even looking.

Controls
For a Gameboy game, this game has very simple controls. The Start button opens the menu, Select does jack, arrow buttons move you around, B button cancels your selections, and A pretty much does everything. A five year old could pick this up and figure out how to do everything, except maybe figure out what items do.

Replay?
But of course! Pokemon is one of the few games out there with a replay value through the roof! Since there are so many possible team choices, there's limitless potential of you kicking butt throughout every town in this game. There's also the optional task of collecting all 150 Pokemon on the table, and with a friend or two Gameboys, you can pursue this task if you wish.

And on a final note, everybody who says they hate this game is either lying or have never played it, or fall into the rare class of people who can't see the potential of how awesome the concept of this game is. Get with the times. The fad is gone now, so Pokemon is just a game now.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/03/04


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