Review by Zylo the wolf

"I actually caught all the 151 Pokemons."

Do you know which is the most successful game franchise of them all? If you don't then you have to be a bit stupid since it's the Super Mario series, just like what anyone would expect. What I don't think that many know is that the second most popular series of all time is actually not The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, FIFA or Madden. It's the games about a yellow electric mouse and and all the other animals in the Pokémon world. I remember when the first game was released and it quickly became a game that me and my friends really enjoyed, but then when the cartoon aired here the games also exploded in popularity. If you had a Gameboy or a Gameboy Color, then you had a Pokémon game.

The plot in the Pokémon games are about as deep as the first Final Fantasy. The game begins with that Proffesor Oak tells you what Pokémons are and that many train Pokémon to become stronger. Our hero is about to get his first Pokémon and begin his journey to become one of the best Pokémon Trainers of all time. The first thing he has to do is to select one out of three Pokémons to be his first Pokémon. The three starters are the grass Pokémon Bulbasaur, the fire Pokémon Charmander or the water Pokémon Squirtle. You rival will select the one of the two Pokémons who are strong against the type of Pokémons you picked. You quest is to defeat the Eight Gym Trainers and then defeat the Elite Four to truly become a Pokémon master. You will found different GYMs in different towns, so all you have to do is to explore the whole world.

An easy way to explain exactly what kind of games the Pokémon series offer is that the game are really simple JRPGs. Every Pokémon works as a regular party member in a RPG. Any Pokémon that took any part of the fight will gain experience points and will increase in levels when it has enough EXP. Unlike the Dragon Quest games where you also can recruit "enemies" it's not possible to buy any equipment for your Pokémon, so you better train it if you want to make it stronger. Every Pokémon can learn up to 4 moves, which works like using magic in other RPGs. Every attack has it's own "mana", which means that if you have used on attack to many times you have to increases it in someway before you can use that attack again. As you might have guessed, a Pokémon with no Mana is useless.

It would be wrong to say that this game doesn't have any random encounters, but it's possible to avoid most of the battles in this game. The only time you will fight wild Pokémons out on the world map is when you are walking in the high grass. If you encounter a Pokémon that you still haven't caught, then you might want to try to catch it instead of defeating it and getting exp. In order to catch a Pokémon you have to have bought at least one Poké ball. When you have damaged about 70% of the enemy's HP, you can throw away a Poké Ball and hope that you catch the Pokémon. If you do you can now train it and hopefully it will serve you well.

The other type of battles are trainer battles, where you challenge other trainers to see who is the best trainer. Most of the trainers got more than one Pokémon, so hopefully you also got six in your party. The difference between Trainer battles and regular battles is that you have to defeat more than one Pokémon, but you also get more exp in these battles. Another important thing is that defeating trainers are the only way to make money if you don't want to sell any items.

Each Pokémon are either one or two types. There are many different of types like Flying Pokémon, Water Pokémon, Electric Pokémon e.t.c. Each type is strong against some other types of Pokémon but weak against others. For example the Electric Pokémon Pikachu is an excellent choice in battle against Water Pokémons or Flying Pokémons, but a really bad option when you are dealing with Ground or Rock Pokémons. In other words it's important to have a balanced and strong team of many different types of Pokémon. Another important thing to remember when you are training your Pokémon are that some Pokémon can evolve to even stronger Pokémons when they have reached a certain level.

The game continues to be very similar to other old RPGs when you reach a town. In every town there's a Pokémon Center, which works exactly as an Inn. It's free to restore your Pokémon's health, which is a good thing since you never get any money buy defeating a wild Pokemon. It's also possible to use the Center's computer to either deposit or withdraw Items, to call Proffesor Oak or to switch the members in your party. Since you are only allowed to have six Pokémon in your party and the point is to catch as many of them as possible, you will be using the computer a lot. The last thing you can do in the PKMN Centers is to connect with a friend and then either trade Pokémon with each other or to fight each other.

If you want to truly catch all Pokémons then you must have a friend who got a seperate game and system. There are two versions of this game (see Pokémon Blue), and both version has a couple of exclusive Pokémon that you can only catch in that version. Some of these exclusives are actually among the best that you can train, and then there are also a couple of Pokémon that you only have one chance to get and then you have to select between different Pokémons. For example Eevee can evolve into three different Pokémons, and it's only possible to get one.

The real point in this game is to build up a solid team and then challenge your friends to see who is the best Pokémon Trainer. The problem is that this game is very unbalanced, especially considering that there is no real weakness to the Psycic type. Also the strongest Pokémon is the famous Mewtwo, which is a must if you want to win over your friends. He is so overpowered that you need Mewtwo if you want to win over a friend who uses Mewtwo. He will quickly kill any other Pokémon. And even if you agree not to use him, the other Psycic pokémon will still also be demigods. I admit that this didn't prevent me and my friends to have a lot of fun with the game, but now that I look back I don't know why I didn't just use Mewtwo and 5 Alakazams.

Another thing player will ask themselves when they are playing this game today is: why would I bother to try to catch all these useless Pokémons that I never will use in battle? Again this is something I really enjoyed to do when this game was new, but now 10 years later I just think it's a big waste of time.

Despite this the first Pokémon is still an enjoyable, simple and different JRPG that is perfect for someone who just loves to build up a team of strong fighters. People who want a really amazing RPG will however be disappointed, and I bet there are many that just won't get the concept.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/22/11

Game Release: Pokemon Red Version (EU, 10/05/99)

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