Review by King Broccoli

"I didn't want to give it this score, HONEST!!!"

Pokemon is a game that everyone out there has heard of, even those silly little people with bald heads that are meant to live a life of silence have been heard yelling “PIKA PIKA” at the most inappropriate times. If you’ve got yourself a Game Boy, then chances are you’ve experienced one of the many different coloured variations of this phenomena. The game puts you in the shoes of a budding Pokemon trainer; you’re exuberant young lad has just come of age and he’s about to embark on what is meant to be “the adventure of a lifetime”. There isn’t much of a story in this game, all you have to do is catch all of the different types of pokemon in the world and become the greatest trainer the world has seen. These tasks do sound rather large, but they can be achieved rather quickly which leaves a person asking the question, “If it’s so easy why hadn’t somebody else in the world of Pokemon already done it?” You’re adventures will reveal a lot of obstacles that will be thrown at you, there’s your rival who will provide the biggest challenges during your battles, the nefarious Team Rocket who always seem to show up at the wrong times and of course a multitude of Pokemon trainers waiting to challenge you! Pokemon was a revolutionary game; one that would change the way people looked any mouse that a person saw in the real world that had magic electrical powers from that day on.

GRAPHICS
The graphics were pretty good, some of the nicest to be seen on the Game Boy system. The world of Pokemon wouldn’t be the most picturesque place to have yourselves a holiday, but it still could have been done a lot worse. The characters have been done pretty well, especially the actual pokemon and their assorted designs. The people that you run into when you’re moving around the world map are just basically a big head with some small details and a couple of limbs barely visible below them. When one moves into a battle, you get to see a generic picture of who you’re fighting, these look pretty good but aren’t anything mind-blowing or extremely special. The pokemon fare a little better in looks, when you initiate a battle with one you’ll get to see a stationary picture of them doing some kind of action, and they’re usually very interesting and imaginative. People must have stayed up late at night figuring out what all of these oddities were going to look like, because they’re pretty darn cool! Generally the characters are a pleasure to view and blend in nicely with the backgrounds; not a bad job has been done on them at all.

The scenery of Pokemon has been done pretty well, although nobody has gone into any major detail when designing them. In the game map you can make out things like long grass and safe walking areas, in towns or buildings there might be repetitive patterns on the floor, there’s a lot of little things that all add up in the end. All of these areas are very clear and easy to look at, you won’t have to squint your way through the game to work out what everything is, it pretty much jumps straight out at you. As you move up and down, the screen scrolls with you very well, not creating too many eyesores as can be the case with some games that are less professionally designed. Everything has been executed nicely leaving little to no room for complaints, they’ve included as much detail as one would want on the screen of their Game Boy.

When you’re in the middle of a fight, you’ve got a few nice little animations that the pokemon will perform when they do their moves. Often they can just be tiny little movements, such as just the twitch of the pokemon’s body, but some of them do get a bit more complicated and look pretty good. When a pokemon gets hit all they really do is flash for a few seconds, so a bit more here would have been nice, but for the most part these animations add nicely to all of the battle scenes you participate in.

Overall, the graphics don’t have too many faults at all. The whole thing has been designed very well and you certainly won’t mind focusing on the screen when you’ve got graphics as sharp as these on it. It’s tough to think of ways that these visuals could have been improved upon, other than a bit more eye-candy in the battle animations, they’ve taken care of most everything themselves, a wonderful job from the graphical areas!

SOUND
The sound is reasonably good, but it probably could have been done a bit better, there are some major problems in a couple of the major areas, which make it less listenable than it should be. The background music could only be described as average at best; it mainly consists of cheerful tunes that emanate repeatedly from your little speaker and that only appeal to certain people. You get yourselves a new tune every time you move from one town to another which thankfully lowers the amount of time one will have to listen to a certain tune, but it might not prove to be enough! These songs aren’t the best things you’ll ever hear, and they have a bad habit of being a bit repetitive, this means that you can find yourself getting sick of listening to the background music in a relatively short period of time. They should have made the music either more listenable or less repetitive, but they didn’t so you might just have to turn the volume all the way down on your Game Boy to escape it! This is music that will appeal to a few certain people, the younger population in particular, but I doubt that it’s music that the masses will enjoy.

The sound effects don’t do very much to ease the pain that the background music dishes out, there aren’t enough of them and they don’t exactly have any outstanding qualities about them. You will hear only a small amount when you’re running around the map of the world, and they’re hardly noticeable over the din of the music, the main area when they come into play is during the battling. There is usually a sound effect or two to accompany all of the attacks out there, and they have a nice quality, good timing and usually fit their chosen attack pretty well. Sometimes you don’t notice them because of the blaring battle theme, but they have been done very nicely. The sound effects manage to surpass the music in overall quality, but they’re still not great!

Overall, the sound is pretty lacklustre. You’ll probably find yourself turning it down eventually (although you won’t do it straight away for some strange reason), and once you realise how calm and tranquil it is when the sound is gone, you’ll probably never turn the volume back up again! A commendable effort from the audio areas, but one that falls just short of the mark.

GAMEPLAY
The gameplay of Pokemon has an incredible amount of depth to it; it would have to be the finest gameplay to ever rear its head on a portable system. It all does get a little bit corny at times, but it’s easy to just shrug this off and have yourself a little bit of fun! The world of pokemon is a reasonably large place and you’ve got a lot of tasks to complete, but the burning question remains, do you have what it takes to catch all of them (catch ‘em all)? The answer is probably no, unless you’ve got a fair bit of money or a sibling that does, but you can still catch the majority of ‘em!

There’s a lot of different ways you can go about your game of Pokemon, there’s a large number of pokemon and a large number of moves they can pull off, you’ll never play through the game twice under the exact same situations. All of the pokemon out there fall under one specific type, you might have a fire pokemon, a water pokemon or maybe even a bug or a psychic pokemon! All of these different types show different strengths and weaknesses depending on the type they’re fighting against; it adds an immense amount of strategy to the title, something that has been sorely missed in other portable titles. All of the moves will do different things to the opposition, of course there are just standard physical or elemental attacks which just deal out damage to your foe, but there are also things that affect the status of the other pokemon. You can put your opposition to sleep, paralyse him, make him confused or even get him to catch on fire!

Battling is a key element of this game, you will have to fight off pokemon trainers like yourself who all want to be a Pokemon Master and of course a veritable truck load of wild pokemon. One can have up to six of the nasty critters in their line-up; you can swap between them in the middle of a fight and change their order outside of a fight! Your pokemon can only have four moves that it knows how to do, as it increases its level it will learn more complicated moves, or you can use special items known as HM’s or TM’s to teach them moves. In a battle all you have to do is choose an attack and the pokemon will unleash it! Battling can seem to be rather slow at times, especially when taking on a weaker opponent, but under the right circumstances it can be sheer enjoyment!

The most important thing you have to learn in this game is how to catch yourself one of thems wild pokemon out yonder. It’s really quite simple when you know how, the first thing you have to do is wander out into some long grass and wait for a pokemon to attack you (this shouldn’t take too long at all). You’ll have to have a bit of a battle with the pokemon, but of course you can’t make the poor little thing faint! You’ll have to weaken it a fair bit to make it easier to capture, and throw one of the many balls that the game offers up at it (read later on for more on balls). Should the pokemon be weak enough, and your balls be strong enough, you will have yourself a new pokemon! You’re going to have to be doing a lot of it if you want to collect the whole set.

There are a lot of items that you can collect and utilise during your journeys around the mystical land of pokemon. A lot of them are just basic things, you’ve got your potions and you’ve got your many variations of potions that are a bit more helpful, but some of them are a bit more exotic and are worth seeking out! You can get items that do glorious things such as raising your levels or stats, but you wont find them in abundance, when you get one of them you have to make sure you use the thing wisely, otherwise you’ll be kicking yourself further down the track! Of course there are quite a few different variations of balls to be bought from here and there, they all work at different standards and are priced accordingly. There is a thing known as the “Master Ball” which will ALWAYS capture the pokemon, but unfortunately you can only get one of those! There are important items that can’t be sold, such as a bicycle or a coin case (to take care of all your gambling needs), there’s just generally a lot of things for you to pick up!

Of course Pokemon is a game that would like you to think that it’s on the cutting edge of technology, it has a lot of high-tech things such as “computers” in it. You can store all the items and pokemon that you won’t be needing for the time being in a “computer” it’s handy for the person who finds themselves filling up their pokemon rosters or pockets with the various things you find too quickly. These computers can be found at the Pokemon Centres around the world, this is where you can heal your pokemon, should they sustain damage in the middle of a battle!

Situated around the map are some wonderful places of interest, you can go to a place known as the Safari Zone, which is where you can catch a lot of the harder to find pokemon for a price. In this place you have to face the pokemon alone and only use the special safari balls. You’ve got two options, give the pokemon bait or throw a rock at the little blighter, it’s a tough system to come to grips with and you’ll find catching pokemon there to be a handful. Another quaint little place is the Pokemon Daycare Centre; you can leave a pokemon there and just leave it. When you come back it should have increased its level and be better prepared for battling (of course it never quite matches the speed that a pokemon will grow at when actually used in battle). There are just so many places to visit in this one little game!

One can only derive full satisfaction from this game should they get both the Red and Blue versions and a link cable. You can capture most of the pokemon on either copy, but there’s twenty or so that will elude you no matter how much you look on either copy. You will have to get someone else with the alter ego of the game, and have a trade or two with them. Getting 150 pokemon is a lot of work, but it’s fairly satisfying in the end!

It’s a fairly linear game, you have to do pretty much everything that the game wants you to do in the order that it wants you to do it in! There are some fairly basic puzzles that you’ll have to complete to progress in the game; things like “pick up an item and give it to the person who wants it for a big reward” will become a fairly common occurrence. There are some areas that can leave you scratching your head for a little while, but it’s generally a game that you can progress at a steady pace through. You won’t have to do an awful lot of levelling up (which makes the game more enjoyable) as the pokemon you have to battle will usually increase in level at the rate of which yours do!

Overall, the gameplay is intriguing to say the least. It’s annoying having the POKEMON ARE OUR FRIENDS AND WE LOVE POKEMON AND PEOPLE AND POKEMON SHOULD GET ALONG AND BE FRIENDS theme shoved down your throat, but other than this the gameplay appears to be almost perfect. It all might appear to be a little bit too cutesy for all the masochists out there, but if anyone starts themselves up a game of Pokemon then they’ll find themselves enjoying themselves immensely. It’s great gameplay, it’s very drawn out but you’ll enjoy it for the full amount of time, it fully deserves the big ten that I’m giving it.

LIFESPAN
There are extremely few games out there with the lifespan of this one, other than Tetris I’ve probably played this game more than any other! Of course the fact that it’s on a portable system helps it out, because you can instantly turn to it no matter where you are, when you’ve got nothing better to do. But there’s something about this game; it will keep you returning to your Game Boy like a magnetic force, even when you DO have something better to do. A game can last fifty hours, maybe even more, and the most shocking fact is that it’s got a high replay value! You can put in hundreds of hours to this game without ever tiring of it; it’s a game that will last you the life of your Game Boy!

FUN FACTOR
Pokemon is a game that is a lot of fun, there are very few aggravations that the game offers up, you’ll just play through the entire thing grinning your little head off the entire time. Catching the whole lot of pokemon will take you a long time, and admittedly you probably will get sick of going through the same mundane routine repeatedly, but it doesn’t detract too much from the fun factor. It’s not a game that takes itself overly seriously and it makes for a whole lot of enjoyable times for the people of all ages that have a go at this game! When the random attacks start getting a bit out of hand, that’s the only time you’re allowed to lose your pleasant disposition!

CHALLENGE
The challenge of Pokemon isn’t an overly hard one, just keep your pokemon in good health and on consistent levels and you can win your way through the game in no time! Of course if you take it seriously and work on strategies and the like, there won’t be a single opponent in the game who will trouble you! The most challenging thing you can do in the game is hook up your Game Boy to another and have a battle or two against a human opponent, you should have some interesting battles there! The final battles (there’s five of the darn things!) won’t be too easy when you first attempt them, but overcome this hurdle the first time and you’ll never be bothered again. Some moments in the game will trouble you, but overall it’s a pretty simple game to get through.

THE FINAL PARAGRAPH
Pokemon is a game that could almost be described as revolutionary. It has so many redeeming features, so many good things going for it without all of those nasty negatives detracting anything! The Pokemon games are the best you can get when discussing portable gaming, and can almost compete with those console games out there. You’d have to be pretty silly not to have a Pokemon game by now, but if you don’t I must urge you to go out and find one immediately! Despite what all of those nasty biased people out there say, this is a superb game, masterfully crafted in every respect. It might appear to be a little bit cute; a tad childish on the outside, but it is a game with surprising depth and one that can hook you for life. Pretty soon Pokemon will be taking over the world, it’s best to get the games and try to get o their good side while you’ve got the chance!
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GOOD POINTS
- Gameplay that will knock your socks off for all the right reasons
- A lifespan that is virtually unmatched out there on the market today
- It’s a game that leaves a lot of room for strategists, it’s easy to get addicted and take your Pokemoning a step further!

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- The sound will knock your socks off for all the wrong reasons
- It is a LITTLE bit easy
- The themes of happiness and friendship are sickening
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GRAPHICS – 8/10
SOUND – 6/10
GAMEPLAY – 10/10
LIFESPAN – 10/10
FUN FACTOR – 10/10
CHALLENGE – 8/10
OVERALL – 10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/03/00, Updated 12/03/00


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