Review by Absolute Nobody
"Blastoise, use Hydro Pump!"
Pokemon is a craze that most everybody should remember. It started off as a big hit in Japan. A bit more than a year later, Nintendo brought it over to the states to see if if would reach the same popularity. Most of us probably remember receiving a video about Pokemon in the mail. We popped it in, watched the brief 20-minute introduction, took it out, and said, ''Meh.'' But then everyone else was suddenly playing the game, so we decided to try it out of simple curiosity. You plopped the Game Boy into your hand, unaware that 5 hours have just gone by. You have the Pokemon in your hands...or do the Pokemon have you? Nonetheless, these two games that I'm reviewing, Pokemon Blue and Red, were the ones that started the series and became instant best-sellers.
You're a young 10-year-old boy who's about to begin his Pokemon journey. After all, it's the hip things that kids do once they're 10 (in the Poke-world, anyways). So you walk over to Professor Oak's laboratory to select your first Pokemon to take with you. Hoorah! You've officially started your Pokemon journey!
The area these two games take place in is called Kanto. You can walk around freely with your character through towns, into buildings, etc. Wild Pokemon are found in tall grass. They appear at random, and once you run into one, you'll immediately go into battle. Whichever Pokemon is at the front of your team (this can be changed at any time outside of battle) will start the battle. Each Pokemon has certain attacks they can use. The attacks do more or less damage than normal if the opponent is a certain type of Pokemon. For example, a Charmander can use Ember, a fire attack which can burn enemies. This will do double the damage against a grass type like Oddish, but only half the damage to a water Pokemon like Blastoise. Once you whittle down an enemy Pokemon's HP, they faint. But if it's a wild Pokemon, you can throw a PokeBall at them to catch them. This works easier with the less HP that the Pokemon has. Once you capture a Pokemon, you can put it on your team and battle with it. You can have up to 6 Pokemon on your team at a time. If you can fit any more Pokemon on your team, all captured Pokemon will be sent to your PC, where you can swap which Pokemon you want or don't want on your team. Pokemon Red/Blue has 150 Pokemon total, plus one more if you entered one of Nintendo's contests way back in '99.
Trainer battles are also a common occurence. If a trainer spots you, you'll immediately go into battle with him/her. They can have from 1 to 6 enemies on their team. After you defeat them, your Pokemon will earn experience and you will receive money, which you can use to buy items from stores that can heal your Pokemon in battle. And in order to progress to the Pokemon League, you must travel around the Kanto region to collect 8 badges from the 8 gyms. All the gyms are located in different towns across Kanto, which you'll encounter on your journeys. Gym leaders specialize in specific types. Once you beat a gym leader, you'll receive their badge.
After a Pokemon gets a certain amount of experience points, they gain a level. If a Pokemon gains enough levels (depends on which Pokemon it is), it will evolve into a more powerful form! They also tend to be larger and more ferocious-looking. A fully-evolved Venusaur is much larger and uglier than its first stage, Bulbasaur. Also, Pokemon don't just evolve from leveling up. If exposed to certain evolution stones, they might also evolve! For example, a Weepinbell will only evolve if you give it a Leaf Stone! If you want to catch 'em all, you're going have to evolve different Pokemon in addition to catching them.
If you have friends to play with, you'll get good use of the link cable. With the cable, you can battle your friends' Pokemon! But even better yet is the trading system! Don't have the money for Red but have a friend who has it, or vice versa? This is where trading comes in handy. However, the trading process is rather time-consuming.
Graphics in this game are fairly average for the most part. Since this game was originally made for the older Game Boy, you'll likely have limited color if you play it on a later Game Boy. The Pokemon themselves are probably drawn better than anything else in the game.
Each Pokemon has their own special ''cry'', or sound they make when they enter a battle. Most of them are fairly short, while some can get a little annoying. No, they're not their actual voices, just sounds. As for the music, it falls into the ''average'' category as well. Nothing too special, but nothing horrid.
Lasting appeal: 9.5/10
The Pokemon games have always been very addictive (the RPGs in particular), and the first two started that tradition. Catching all 150 Pokemon should take you a while, especially since both versions and a link cable are required to do so. Battling with others over the link cable with friends should also add some nice replay value to the game.
The Pokemon ''craze'' may be over, but it's now a permanent Nintendo franchise. The merchandise may not be as excessive, but the games remain epic. Remember, games are meant to be played for entertainment, not to show maturity. But if you're thinking about trying out one of the handheld Pokemon games, I'd suggest checking out Gold/Silver/Crystal or Ruby/Sapphire first. They have the same Pokemon as Red/Blue/Yellow, plus many more. However, these first two versions are still considered the best by many people, primarily because they started the whole trend and general idea. Pick one of these versions up if you can.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/13/04, Updated 10/11/04
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