Review by Ice Water

"HOLY CRAP! They managed to improve so much within a year!"

As everyone knows, after Pokemon Red and Blue came out, there was a mass outbreak of the game's popularity. Soon after, the mass breakout of crappy merchandise, the fun card game that everyone says they hated, even though they'd get into literal fist fights over certain rare cards and the like, and the decent anime that is still running today. Back in 1999, Nintendo decided to take advantage of their anime's popularity and created an upgrade to their classic games. Lo and behold, they created Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition. What exactly was different with Pokemon Yellow that gave it a slight advantage over its predecessors was the fact that Nintendo made so many changes it wasn't funny.

The story remains exactly the same as the original two games. You are a 12 year old boy living in your small town known as Palette. Your next door neighbor is your former friend turned rival against everything you want to do in life. In town lives the greatest Pokemon researcher ever known to man: Professor Oak. One day, you decide to skip school for the rest of your life and head out of town, only to be stopped by the old man himself. Suddenly, you are attacked! Out of nowhere, a wild Pikachu appears! Thank goodness the old man appeared when he did to capture the sucker, otherwise that would have been a nasty electrical shock! Afterwards, Oak takes you back to his lab where your rival is waiting. Oak says to you that if you wish to leave town, you will need a Pokemon to help you on your quest, and offers you the one and only Pokemon on the table. Your rival, being the punk he is, knocks you out of the way, leaving you empty handed. Feeling bad for you, Oak offers to give you the Pikachu that was about to deep fry you a few moments ago, and you accept. You can now begin your quest!

The biggest change here of course is the fact that you no longer have the option of choosing either a Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle anymore, and are stuck with the electric rat instead. Your rival now has an Eevee instead of the type that is stronger than you, and depending on your actions in the first two fights against him depends the outcome on what Pokemon he will evolve it into. Other than this, there really isn't much of a change in the simple storyline.

What the heck is different?
There are so many changes to this game that it makes you wonder why Nintendo just didn't wait the one year to release it. Besides the obvious addition of Pikachu, there's the introduction to how much a Pokemon loves you. As you can tell, Pikachu will follow you around the entire game (unless he gets KO'd, you store him in the PC, trade him, etc). You can talk to him any time during the game to see how he's feeling, and there will be a screen that will pop up to show you how he's doing. Sure, this seems completely lame seeing how Pikachu will do whatever you want him to do in the first place, but this actually led the way to happiness evolutions in the later Pokemon games. This game just set up a test for that system to see if it would be able to work out well, and it does. Good idea Nintendo.

Some other differences that are noteworthy are the fact that moves can now be learned at different times at different levels. A great addition to the series, seeing how many Pokemon had pretty low move sets built into their level system, especially Pikachu. You can now add TM and HM moves onto more Pokemon than you ever could in Blue or Red. A great example of this is the HM Fly. You could not equip this move onto a Charizard, which made no sense seeing how Charizard was a flying type. In yellow, you can now use this move to its fullest. This system also led the way for the creation of better attacks that would be later created in the future Pokemon games.

The graphics were totally revamped in this game. In Red and Blue, the graphics were good enough to get the job done, but in Yellow, they look more like their actual anime counterparts, meaning they are actually what the original artists WANTED the Pokemon to look like. After you play this game, you'll wonder why you ever put up with Red and Blue's graphics for as long as you did. The graphics effect only the battle graphics and Pokedex entries though, seeing how the towns and town people look exactly the same as they did in Red and Blue. Bummer. Oh well, this game was also customized for the Gameboy Color, so the colors aren't a Blue or Red hue when playing on the Color system like the previous two games. Why they couldn't have the color scheme from the Super Gameboy, I don't know, but either way it all looks good now.

Another edition to this game was the selling point for me. The main bad guys from the show, Team Rocket (Jessie and James) were added! These hilarious characters from the show (I don't care what you say, these guys are cool as hell, and are the only reason people even watch the show) are now added characters in the game, removing a few of the former Team Rocket battles with key grunts that blocked something important (key item, exit, etc). The only way the addition of these characters would have been better is if they had followed you to every town and caused you to fight them every time you left town. It would have been WAY better, but it was nice to see them in the game.

Last but not least, some of the locations of Pokemon have been changed for this version. You can now find rare Pokemon like level 9 Pidgeotto's REALLY early in the game now instead of late in the game when your original Pidgey would have long since evolved into its final form. This is a great idea, seeing how Pikachu has a real hard time against the first Gym Leader due to a friggin' type disadvantage. The moving around of Pokemon may confuse you at first, but once you realize it was for the better you won't care at all. You can even collect ALL THREE STARTERS in this game! That means you won't have to start a new game to play with a different starter no more, but rather have all three and Pikachu on your team at the same time! SCORE!

The gameplay wasn't changed at all, which is a good thing. The classic create your own team which made Pokemon a smash hit is still implemented, and that's all that matters. Battles are still one on one, where you select a command from your list of moves (up to four moves can ever be learned at a time by any one Pokemon) to defeat your opponent. Pokemon moves all have an advantage and disadvantage over other Pokemon types, so there will be a range from having a move that is Super-effective against one type of Pokemon that will be either ineffective or not very effective against another. A good example of this would be the water type move Water Gun. Water Gun can take out a fire type Pokemon with no problem whatsoever, but will have a hard time taking down a grass type Pokemon due to the very same reason. When it comes down to the basics, this game is nothing more than a really complex game of Paper-Rock-Scissors.

Music, Sound, and Pikachu
Nothing in this department has changed in a year. The music is still as awesome as it was when it was introduced in Red and Blue. The sound is exactly the same as well, despite the new Pokemon designs. The one key difference in this game compared to the originals is the small bit of voice acting that was added. You are treated to a REALLY scratchy voice that says 'Pikachu' every friggin' time you turn on your game. The other sounds you may hear are 'Pika!', 'CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA', 'Chu....', 'Pika-Pika', and so on. They could have done without the voice acting, although it was a nifty idea to add in. Its probably a good thing that they never used voice acting in another Pokemon game though, seeing how it gets kind of annoying listening to Pikachu every time you friggin' send it into battle only to have it get KO'd in one hit by some other guy's move. Besides this flaw, the original music and sound effects haven't changed a bit, which is for the better.

With the removal of about 15 or so Pokemon from this game, there is actually less replay in this game than in the original two versions, just because you can catch them all in almost one go. However, since this game is still just as fun as ever, you will probably want to go and play it again no matter what, especially with the introduction of Pokemon Stadium that came out a few months after this game.

So with the heavy price of 10 bucks, this game is definitely worth getting, maybe even more so than Red or Blue. All three are worth getting in the end though, and with a Gameboy Pocket at the price of 10 bucks, you can be set up with 2 Gameboys, all three versions, and a link cable for the low price of 51 bucks. That's WAY more than what you could get if you got something like Halo 2, so go nuts!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/06/04

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