Review by Ranma
"Something new and innovative, and something you can really sink your teeth into"
Pokémon doesn't necesssarily revolutionize the Game Boy in terms of graphics and sound, and it doesn't necessarily revolutionize the RPG genre in terms of story, but dammit, it's fun and and it's innovative. It starts off slow, but if you stick with it, it will become a hobby that you won't want to put down.
The graphics for the most part are nice; the buildings in the cities are detailed, and nice little touches like flowers and trees and moving water are included everywhere. The art for the Pokémon themselves is superb.. when you're looking at them, that is. But in battle, the view from behind your Pokémon really sucks. Your Pokémon, no matter which of the 151 it is, is terribly pixelated and blurry, and looks like it's zoomed in, although in reality it isn't. The attacks showcased in battle show very little effort; a few of them are just repeat animations with different names and power levels. There are a lot of original ones though, so you have to give it that. It's a shame that this game was developed before the Game Boy Color was released; the graphics could have been enhanced ten-fold. Neither version of the game is optimized for the Game Boy Color.
The music is nothing revolutionary or special, but it's just enough to keep you going, and it's actually catchy enough to where you won't be looking for the Volume dial. Some of the overworld tunes are sickeningly cute, short, and repetitive, but the different city, Poké Center, Gym, and especially Battle tunes really are cool (gotta love that Gym Leader battle music!!). The sound effects are pretty non-exsistent; there are a bunch during battle, but you don't really notice them, because you're listening to the music and making sure your Pokémon doesn't faint (that's right, animal lovers [I myself am one], don't worry.. the cute lil' Pokémon don't die, they faint). The sound effects that are there are mediocre at best; fake water, fire, quakes, and lightning sounds fill your little Game Boy speaker. In the sound department, music is where this game shines, especially in the battles.
Pokémon isn't story driven, and it's not fair to rate it on story. Basically, you are Ash Ketchum (Catch 'em, get it?), a young boy from Pallet Town who wants to become a world-class Pokémon Trainer. Pokémon Trainers are individuals who catch wild Pokémon in battle and train them for battle against other wild and trained Pokémon. One day, you called to Professor Oak's office. Professor Oak, in his younger days, was a world-class Pokémon expert and Trainer, and now, he wants Ash, and his grandson, Gary, to collect all 150 Pokémon (there is a secret 151st one) so that he can fulfill his dream of putting together the world's best encyclopedia on Pokémon. Gary, it turns out, sees Ash as his mortal enemy and rival because they are the same age and height, and so a rivalry begins between the two of them, with Gary being the immature one. At certain points in the game, you'll come across Gary, who will challenge you to Pokémon battles to keep you in shape. As the game progresses, his Pokémon become stronger and further trained (as yours should too). Finally, at the end of the game, you will fight Gary one last time, who has already beaten the Four Pokémon Masters, for the title of World-Class Pokémon Master. Anyway, getting back to the story; when you get to Oak's place, he tells you to choose one of three Pokémon from three Poké Balls on a table (Poké Balls are used to capture and store Pokémon). The first is Charmander, a Fire Pokémon. Next is Squirtle, a Water Pokémon. Then there's Bulbasaur, a Grass/Earth Pokémon. The one you choose will be your primary companion and powerhouse throughout the game, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. They are all top-class Pokémon, and by the end of the game, if you have chosen the cute and cuddly Squirtle, you will probably have a high-level Blastoise (its final evolution) that kicks ass and takes names. And so, once you have chosen, Gary chooses (he always chooses the one that has an advantage over you), and so your adventure begins, with but one Pokémon. It's up to you to collect the remaining 149 of them, so get going!
Well, the controls are simple and responsive. The Control Pad is used to move around and move the menu cursor. The Start Button brings up the Menu. The A Button makes Menu selections, in and out of battle. The B Button cancels them. See? Very easy, and simple. Very nice.
Fun Factor: 8/10
I will tell you this straight out; Pokémon starts off very slow and pretty boring. You choose your starting Pokémon and fight a few "your turn, its turn, your turn, its turn" battles and make your way to the next town. Then you pick up a package for Oak, and bring it back to him, all the while fighting more boring battles, raising your Charmander/Squirtle/Bulbasaur's Levels. You give the package to Oak, and then he gives you a Pokédex. This is when it gets better. You make your way back to the next town, where you can now buy Poké Balls to catch those Pidgeys and Rattatas you've been fighting for awhile now. This begins your collection. Before you know it, you're addicted. And hooked for good. You'll spend hours on this game just trying to get more Pokémon. And even after you beat the game, you still need to collect all 150 Pokémon to become a Pokémon Master, and you can use Game Genie to get Mew, the 151st Pokémon if you're really obsessed. So just stick with it at the beginning. If you do, you'll find a light-hearted adventure that's great fun.
If you're looking for a great new RPG with an deep, dark, involving story, an innovative battle system, state of the art graphics, and lush, rich, beautiful music, then... Pokémon isn't for you. Pokémon is not a good RPG by any means. But if you're looking for something new and innovative, and something you can really sink your teeth into and keep chewing for a long time, like long-lasting gum, then Pokémon IS for you. It will last you a long time as you strive to Catch 'em All!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99
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