Review by zoradude

"Capturing the heart of many young souls back in the day."

Introduction - 2007? No sweat!
Well to start if anyone ever somehow ends up reading this... Yes the year is 2007 and I am reviewing basically a 10 year old game. Why am I reviewing it though? Well back when Pokemon Diamond and Pearl came out I got that Pokemon magic again and replayed a game through each of the 3 past generations. Playing through these two games again reminded me why so many people love the series and how it continues to grow even today.

Simplistic, yet addicting.
That is basically the sum of what the graphics were in this game. They were bland even for a Gameboy game, yet they were still magical and felt very alive to us as young kids. Each and every Pokemon had their own custom artwork to represent them in battle. While there were no out of combat sprites for each Pokemon that we are spoiled with today there were a few sprites that were used to show Pokemon and even if we had to talk to the trainer or the Pokemon to find out what that creature was, it made the world feel even more real to us. The attacks were equally cheesy but one would not expect much more from a Gameboy title at the time. A lot of attacks shared the same animation and weren't done that well but we did not care; it was enough to keep us entertained and play for hours on end.

While the graphics were not the best we had seen on the Gameboy at the time one has to appreciate everything they saw anyway. There were no colors at the time so showing things all in black and white had to be done a different way with focusing on lighting much more. The game handled it well and it made up for the sub-par graphics.

Okay, I realize that is hard to understand but if you use your imagination a little you can remember the Pokemon center jingle that played each and every time you went to heal your team. The music and sound effects from Pokemon Blue set the stage for every single generation to follow. Each Pokemon had a different sound they made when sent into battle and these sounds carry over into every game to date, even the newest edition to the family Pokemon Battle Revolution. Even though the sounds were just a few beeps or boops it gave each Pokemon some sort of depth.

The music was equally great such as the sound. Each tune has been remixed and redone, added to each of the games to follow. From the battle music, to the victory tune. Even with Diamond and Pearl making wonderful new tunes featuring actual instruments the old songs are still intact and remind us of the first generation we grew up with and loved.

A change of pace for RPG story lines.
While basically every RPG at the time was focusing on three or four young adventurers out on a long journey to save the world Pokemon broke from that and told a smaller tale. Now this story did not actually tell us the tale as well as many other RPGs at the time but I do still appreciate it from breaking the mold set up by Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy.

You start the game as a young male preteen. After you decide to take a short walk outside of your hometown Pallet you are stopped by Mr. Pokemon himself Professor Oak. He tells you tall grass is too dangerous to walk in; you should come inside his lab to get a Pokemon for protection. A small cut scene occurs with Oak's cocky grandson coming into the game nagging his grandfather for a Pokemon to battle with. After you learn apparently you and this kid have been rivals since you were even younger kids you pick your first companion in the Pokemon world. After a short battle with your rival he claims he will grow stronger and someday beat you and off he goes.

From here the game let you free roam a bit, after a short trip to the next town's market our young preteen, you, traveled back to Oak's lab where your true future sat in wait. Oak claims he is too old to roam the world anymore and can't make use of the new delivery he got. Two brand new Pokedexes, a device used to record data in an encyclopedia fashion on every Pokemon in the world. That was his dream but since as I said he was too old for it he wishes you and your rival to take on the task. After another few cocky phrases from your rival he sprints off saying he does not need your help to succeed.

So from there you begin your journey in the unnamed at the time region of the world called Kanto, which geographically speaking is the same shape as an area in Japan named Kanto. That was a subtle start to each region of the Pokemon series being modeled geographically from a region of Pokemon's home Japan.

After traveling the world for some time to collect data and become a Pokemon master you encounter the game's second, more evil, antagonist. Team Rocket was a group of crooks and brutes that were out to steal Pokemon and become very wealthy. Interesting motive for a bad guy considering we have had power hungry god like creatures rammed down our throat year after year.

Team Rocket was a typical organization. Grunts the low ranking foot soldiers, a few admins to tell those grunts what to do, and then the big bad boss himself Giovanni. Even with the odd story the Pokemon games offered the bad guy was still your typical evil man. He stole and hurt anyone in his way to get what he wanted which is even shown multiple times through out the game. Of course like any good RPG he has the fate you would imagine though nothing too dramatic since this was a game for younger players.

Nice introduction into the world of RPGs
It is a large debate but in Japan Pokemon is the largest RPG series there is. Some people mistake this though due to how simple the game plays, and don't even realize that it is indeed a RPG. Back years ago on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) a game called Final Fantasy Mystic Quest came out. This game was basically a simplified form of RPG combat for anyone who was interested in RPGs but scared by the sheer complexity of them. Pokemon truly took this idea one step further in Pokemon Blue.

The game like any other RPG is split up into world map exploration and battles. As for the world map all the things you would expect from any RPG make an appearance here. In towns you can visit the market to buy items such as potions or revives. You can visit a Pokemon Center to restore your Pokemon's HP for free, and of course interact any of the NPCs you find in towns. The game also had its form of bosses like in other RPGs, yet they were plentiful in this title. Most towns had a Gym where one could battle gym trainers and the gym leader himself. There were 9 gyms and gym leaders total, though one of those was not part of the 'official Pokemon league gym leaders'. Each of these gyms offered a specific type of Pokemon for you to fight against and earn badges to move through the game. You had to defeat certain gyms to unlock the use of certain abilities to cut paths into new areas.

As far as all the puzzles go however, they were very simplistic and felt like more of a hassle then anything. Each 'dungeon' so to speak that you went to had their own type of puzzle that you had to figure out. Most of these were very simple and just involved hitting switches, or standing on a platform that teleports you. One key thing however did add some flavor to the system. Hidden Machine aka HMs were hidden through the game for players to find. These were attacks that only specific types of Pokemon could learn. For example the HM surf was a water move only Pokemon of the water type and a few select others could learn. This led to you the player having to balance your team for battles and the world map.

HMs outside of battle served as an alternate way to solve puzzles. There were only 5 in the original generation which were: surf, flash, fly, strength, and cut. Each one of these does pretty much what you pictured upon reading the word. This sort of puzzle solving took a cue from games such as The Legend of Zelda which the player must obtain new gear such as a bomb to open new paths in dungeons and the world map. Later games such as the Golden Sun series advanced with this idea even more where your characters would learn specific magic to allow them to solve new puzzles. So as you can see it is a formula that not only works well is pretty fun overall.

Pokemon Blue's battles were split into two separate categories. There were random battles and trainer battles. They both followed the same simple RPG formula of dwindling your opponents HP to zero before they did yours but that was about it.

Wild encounters are your average fights you would expect in any RPG. You are given four options at the start of the battle: Fight, run, item, and Pokemon (which served as a method to change Pokemon in and out)

What separates wild battles from trainer battles is the fact of how dumb your enemy was. They often used stupid attacks that made them really look they were wild untrained creatures. Also you could of course capture these untrained Pokemon in Pokeballs and train them yourself and customize their move set a bit more.

In trainer encounters you could face off against up to six different Pokemon, though almost no trainer did indeed own six. As I said before the battle screen had a run command but this could not be used in trainer fights. You were forced to fight the enemies Pokemon until one of you lost all of your Pokemon. You could also not capture the enemies Pokemon, as they would block the ball from being thrown, along with smarter Pokemon in general that wild encounters lacked.

This formula succeeded in Pokemon Blue and was carried over into every Pokemon game to date with minor or even large changes that shaped it into what it is today. The gameplay was very simplistic and it was a great game to teach people the basics of RPGs which then lead to more of us moving on to more complex games such as Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Tales of... series, and so on.

In the end
Pokemon Blue was a complete success and started one of the largest franchises ever leading to an anime, a trading card game, action figures, and even spin off video games. Anyone that ever missed these glory days really needs to go back and take a look at what started the biggest Japanese RPG series. Simplistic puzzles and battles also made it the perfect game for an RPG wannabe to get into. They are truly masterpieces with little flaw.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/08/07

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