Review by Haunter12O

"Now that the craze is gone, it's much easier to notice the many problems this game contains."

Pokemon. Rewind back three-four years when it was a mega-popular fad, when everyone watched the anime, when people bought a Game Boy/Color just to play the game, when people spent an extra $150 to buy a Pokemon trading card... really, what started this craze? I can say the game did, and I'd be right. But because of the fad, everyone overlooked the supreme mediocrity the game delivered and played anyway, putting this game on their top xx games list.

Seriously. This game was outdated as hell when it was released. The graphics are that of a game created in 1992 or 1993 for the Game Boy, such as Final Fantasy Legend, and the overall execution was just... unpleasant, to say the least.

However, there's no use in *****ing about the faults of the game right away. I took a trip down memory lane recently, after playing the spectacular Pokemon Ruby for Game Boy Advance, and I found that I could not stand Pokemon Red/Blue at all. There was just no good to be said about the game after turning the Game Boy off.

So let's start the body of the review, shall we?

GRAPHICS

Pokemon was released shortly before the Game Boy Color was put on the market, so why couldn't Game Freak just wait and release it in color? By the time the sequel(s), Pokemon Gold/Silver were released, the fad quickly started dying out, and I know that Pokemon Blue/Red could have fared much better if it was released on the GBC. This didn't happen, and we got little shades of blue/red depending on which cartridge (Blue or Red) was being played.

The rest of the visuals are completely bland. There are only two types of buildings, and most towns ended up looking boring and uninspired. There are ugly borders around the rooftops of buildings, and the windows look a bit odd. Also, color comes into play here - why in God's name is every building blue/red? Why are the people blue/red as well?

The sprites may look bad... well, no, mediocre, but what bogs down the visuals department even more are the in-battle displays. Sure, you're fighting a Pokemon, which may look cool just standing there facing off against you, but when you send out one of your own Pokemon, you're presented with a pixelated mess of the back of your Pokemon's face. It's not a pretty sight at all, and I know you'll be terribly disappointed looking at the back of Pidgeot's head and screaming in horror. If only Game Freak redesigned the battle scene to look different...

I could not be more disappointed about the horrific visuals in the game. If the year was 1998, when the game was released, I'd think they were mediocre, but I'd still also think, and KNOW, that Game Freak half-assed the graphics just because they wanted to release the game already.

SOUND

The trio of composers (I believe it's trio) did a great job with the music. Every piece of music is beautiful and light-hearted, and they did not fail making the music even better in Ruby/Sapphire. You'd love listening to the cheery melody playing in Viridian or Cerulean City, or the popular Gym battle theme.

...Outside of the game.

Due to the Game Boy's limits, all you'd hear are beeps and boops. This is to be expected, but I've heard much better music brought to the Game Boy in games like Wario Land 2 and Link's Awakening. Here, great music is simply ruined. You can hear the music, orchestrated or what-not, outside of the game in a much better manner (if you watched the Pokemon anime like myself, you may have heard some of these pieces used to the fullest, and boy, did they sound good).

However, that's not the worst of it. There are plenty of sounds used in the game, and I cannot express the utter awfulness they deliver. For one, every time you walk up to and touch a wall/tree/person, you hear a "bump" sound. May I ask what the point of this is? This ends up being extremely annoying, and strangely, Game Freak did not remove this feature in any of their future installments.

The other sounds are vague Pokemon cries. Again, this was a pitiful attempt at adding audio, because all of these shrieks sound almost the same. Well, they're pretty much the same sound with a lower or higher tempo, and you'd hear it in every single battle. The other sounds are simply attacks, but I had no problem with those, even if they do have to take up the instruments used in the background music.

STORY

One word sums this part up: "Bleh". There's one storyline in the game with a single side plot. Basically, you have to become the world's greatest Pokemon trainer. Pokemon are creatures that may resemble anything, from household pets such as dogs to large, fire-breathing dragons. Various tykes around the world leave on a journey to catch these creatures using "Poke-Balls" then battle other trainers using their obtained Pokemon. Your goal is simply to collect all eight Gym - places with strong trainers who test your battle worthiness - badges and defeat the Elite Four masters. You've also got to deal with an annoying rival and Team Rocket, a group of annoying thieves who like stealing Pokemon and other Pokemon-related supplies.

I wouldn't say this is so bad, since the game is geared towards the younger crowd who wouldn't give a flip, but be serious now... It's a laughably bad storyline, with no plot twists and virtually no important dialogue scenes. The hero is a mute nobody and none of the characters in the game have any development to them other than being "evil" (Team Rocket) or just plain stupid (your rival, and just about everyone else). Also, apparently you're able to take on Team Rocket all by yourself by sneaking into their base and defeating their leader in a Pokemon battle. If I was part of Team Rocket, I'd have a gun with me, ready to take down any 10-year old intruder who plans on stealing my world-domination plans. I would NOT have a completely inferior Pokemon and engage in a Poke-battle with the intruder, only to see my Koffing die in one hit. But then again, I already said that this IS a kids' game, so let's not talk about things that may seem irrelevant.

GAMEPLAY

Here's the catcher - there are 150 Pokemon to collect, and you can either catch, trade, or watch an older 'mon evolve into a new one. All of the Pokemon information is stored in the Pokedex. Once you catch all 150, you... well, nothing happens, except that you earn bragging rights, which many had back in the day.

However, this experience is completely flawed. For one, a good amount of these Pokemon CANNOT be obtained on your cartridge. The blue and red cartridges have different Pokemon for you to collect, and the only way you'd be able to obtain them all is to buy another Game Boy, a Pokemon Red/Blue/whichever cartridge you do not have, a Game Link, and reach the point where a different Pokemon can be caught, then connect and trade. Of course, if you have a friend, you can make this easier, but it's still a pain, especially when some of these Pokemon can only be acquired by "sacrificing" another, meaning that you'd have to play the game up to three-four times on a different cartridge to obtain them all, then trade back into your original cartridge.

The goal of the game is just to reach the Indigo Plateau while winning battles from Gym leaders around the world (which is called Kanto, although the name is never mentioned). The game WANTS you to battle these Gym leaders with different Pokemon, because the leaders themselves use different-type 'mons. And, as we all know, different types are more susceptible to others (water is weak towards lightning, grass is weak towards fire, etc). Again, this is completely flawed. Your started Pokemon will gain MANY levels in the RPG-style battles you'll fight, and you can easily speed through the game using only that Pokemon, even against types they are weak against. I played through the game once using only my Squirtle, which evolved into a Wartortle early on in the game, and into a Blastoise about 30% through. I never died this way.

Of course, you can play the "other way" and actually catch Pokemon to expand your Pokedex and use them in battle, but the fact that they'll usually be inferior to your starter will grow on you - you'll have to spend time leveling the caught Pokemon until they can take on others, then possibly never use them again. The only time you'll ever want to use others is if they're optional prey, such as the legendary birds or the fabled Mewtwo, who can only be caught at the end of the game.

And of course, the battles. Oh, the battles... I could not stand the utter boredom I had to go through while playing the game and encountering trainers and wild Pokemon. When you're in a wild-Pokemon infested area, you're likely to encounter one every step, which is a big minus. Yeah, you can catch that Caterpie you encounter, but then you'll fight another one the next step, and beating it gives you chicken feed for experience. Trainers just sit and wait for you to walk by only for them to stop you and fight you.

Each Pokemon can have up to four attacks. These attacks are either attained from leveling or learned from using a TM or HM (items that contain a move certain Pokemon can learn). These will be the only moves you can use during battle unless your Pokemon learns a new one. It wouldn't be so bad if the battle engine wasn't so damned boring. See, 35 percent of the time, you'll be reading the stupid "Trainer sends out a Growlithe! Growlithe uses Ember!" messages, 25 percent of the time you'll be choosing the move you want to use against your opponent. The other 40 percent? Watching the enemy's life bar drop down from full HP to no HP. That's right, there are very many instances where opponents will die in one hit, and it's simply tiresome watching this every battle. It's like having little control of each battle - you might actually be pressing A all the time and then hearing the victory music. It's a damn shame that Game Freak never bothered to revamp it in their future installments.

So, then, what's good about it?

Of course, what prevents me from giving the game a lower score is its long-lasting value. Outside of the horrible graphics, bleepy music, and boring filler battles lies the collect-all-Pokemon quest. While I did say that it is flawed, many will enjoy collecting every single Pokemon, even if it means having to travel to the other side of the world, where your cousin has a Pokemon Red cartridge with a Growlithe that he'll trade for your Vulpix.

Plus, battling a fellow friend can actually be fun, provided that both of you have a considerably powerful Pokemon team on the same level.

...And while we're on the subject of battles, some of the boss battles in the single-player game are quite difficult for beginners, so building up a proper team of Pokemon would be necessary. These battles can become heated and pretty fun, but that's mainly due to the adversary using a cheap status effect making your fighter Pokemon unusable, following a switch-around.

THE FINAL WORD

I, too, was a victim of the Poke-craze a while ago, hence my name. Don't get me wrong, I love the anime and Ruby/Sapphire were considerably better, but the very first in the series was a game with many flaws - flaws overlooked by people who were swayed into the craze. If this was a stand-alone game, people might have understood.

Graphics: 3 / 10
Sound: 3 / 10
Story: 4 / 10
Gameplay: 4 / 10
Replay Value: 7 / 10 - collecting all the Pokemon is enough for the replay level to rise.

Total: 21 / 50 = 0.42 = 42%

Final Score: 4 / 10

-Haunter120


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/04


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